Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What the World Needs Now...

"What the world needs now,
Is love, sweet love,
It's the only thing that there's just too little of.
What the world needs now,
Is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone"

Yes, I am dating myself just by knowing the words and tune to this 1965 tune by Hal David but the lyrics are a fitting tribute to what my friend and colleague Kristin Pedemonti is attempting now.

First, a bit of background on this remarkable young woman. In 2005 Kristin sold her home and her possessions to Fund, Found and Facilitate volunteer project Literacy Outreach Belize. She has donated performances for over 33,340 children in 100 schools and trained 800 teachers and librarians throughout Belize. She also travels around the world sharing stories. In 2011 she was awarded the coveted National Storytelling Network’s International Story Bridge Award for her outstanding work in other countries. Now, she is featured on TED Talks, hoping to motivate others to share their joy. After viewing her video (see below, scroll all the way down the page; you don't want to miss it!) I asked Kristin to share the background of her journey for this inspiring TED Talk. True to form, she leapt at the chance with…

It all began with a bottle of bubbles on the Subway in NYC, 2008. I was sitting there, squashed in among the passengers; everyone looked somber, exhausted. So, I pulled out a bottle of bubbles (I'm always packin') and began to blow. Someone smiled. I reached into my bag and handed a bottle across the aisle, gesturing for them to join me. They did. That one bottle shared turned into 500 bottles or more, I've lost count.

That same bag contains my Free Hugs sign. I never leave home without it. That sign has traveled with me throughout the US, Europe, Central & South America and even to the Top of Mountain Machu Picchu in Peru. I organize and Share Free Hugs Every Where I go.

Fast Forward to April 2012. Puneet sent me a link to the TED Talks Worldwide Talent Search in 14 cities Around the World. He wrote, "Kristin, you need to enter this contest, but do something serious about your storytelling, not that Free Hug stuff."

But the "FREE HUG stuff" was what called out to me, demanding attention. So, I ignored his advice and submitted my one minute video and short essay about Sharing JOY through Storytelling, "I want to Share Joy because JOY is Contagious, let's make it go viral!"

TED sifted through thousands of entries and, Oh my goodness; I was one of the lucky 31 chosen for the Next Step in the Search: a five minute TED Talk in NYC. Five minutes to convince the World to "pick me, pick me" for Step 3, a full length TED Talk to present at their 2013 Worldwide Talent Search Event. I was awed by the other "selectees." A young man with no right hand played the most beautiful violin you ever heard. A 15 year old discovered a potential early diagnosis for pancreatic cancer; a scientist shared how microscopic magnets can clean water. And then there was ME, with my bottles of bubbles, Free Hugs Sign and a Big Wheel, speaking about something so simple: Joy.

Please take five minutes and allow yourself to feel some Joy. Oh, Yes, Joy is meant to be shared. Perhaps you will share some bubbles or a hug a stranger. Yes, indeed, what the World Needs Now is..... Joy. Sweet. JOY."

If you enJOYed my talk please log in to TED and leave a comment as to why this deserves to be a full length TED Talk. My heart thanks you.

HUG and ooOOoOOoooooo Bubbles!"
Kristin Pedemonti

Professional Storyteller, Literacy Advocate
Visit to learn more!

Karen Chace 2012 ©

 Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Does "Your Story" Ring True?

Pinocchio, 1911
From, Das Plakat
Pinocchio’s Nose Grows ©
by Linda Gorham

* This article was previously published in the Northlands Journal, June 2010. It is republished here with her permission.

Truth in advertising. It’s a simple concept yet so many have, perhaps conveniently, forgotten how dishonesty can ruin careers. We have the politician who exaggerated his service in Vietnam, the renown chef who lied on his resume about where and for whom he cooked, the CEO who, well, didn’t actually ‘graduate’ from Harvard, and the Olympic athlete who, for years, denied taking steroids. Plus, there are countless people who lied about getting Medals of Honor in Vietnam. You’ve heard the responses, “Oops.” “Sorry.” “I misspoke.” And you’ve heard their consequences as they were humiliated, fired, jailed and/or forced to take early retirements.

This phenomenon is not just for the high profile professions. The temptation to exaggerate our experiences and qualifications occurs in every field – yes, even in the storytelling world. We too, could use a ‘truth in advertising’ reality check.
  • Are we bilingual because we tell The Barking Mouse?
  • Are we bona fide musicians if we occasionally bang on a drum, shake a tambourine, or blow into a recorder?
  • Does taking a workshop with fill-in-the-blank-big-name-storyteller make us similarly talented?
  • If we have told with fill-in-the-blank-big-name-storyteller, are we also qualified to be headliners?
  • Do we have the right to give ourselves the title Master Storyteller, Griot, or Baba?
Are we tiptoeing into Pinocchio nose growing situations? Are we portraying ourselves honestly? Are we standing behind our own credentials? Are we creating experiences and qualifications we don’t really have? Are we afraid we blend in with in the increasingly crowded world of storytelling that we won’t be noticed?

We all spend hours creating, editing, and tweaking our resumes, brochures, websites, blogs, and all the other marketing tools at our disposal. We check for typos, punctuality, and grammar. How about one more check … for honesty?

We each want to stand out. That’s a human trait. It reflects a desire to grow and get the jobs we feel we deserve. But it is my hope that we want to stand out on our own skills, experiences, and talents. Find your own voice. Figure out who you are and what you have to offer. Ask yourself, “What makes me extraordinary and unique?”

·           What type of stories do I tell?
·           What kind of emotional energy do I convey?
·           What do I offer that is distinctive?
·           What is my look, my colors, my signature style?
·           What descriptive words do I want someone to say after seeing me perform?
·           What do I have to offer that sets me apart from others?

Be remarkable in your own right and you will never feel the need to define yourself by your relationships with others. There are plenty of ways for you to express your own creative uniqueness.

Seth Godin defined the concept of individuality in his book PurpleCow. Godin’s thesis is that we have all seen plenty of black and white cows. Dime a dozen, right? Just think how excited we would be to see something new, something unique, something that stands out – something like a purple cow! Is there room for individual and event purple cows in the storytelling world? Absolutely!

Purple cow-type storytelling events are growing fast. The Moth is a purple cow. The Moth started as a group of people sharing stories monthly in someone’s living room. The concept is to have very short humorous personal stories, selected by lottery, that are told in small bar-type clubs. Since 1997, The Moth has had over 3,000 sold-out events in over eight major US cities reaching over 100,000 people. 

A Fringe is a purple cow. The Fringe concept started in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 as an alternative festival that played concurrently, but outside the formal location, of the Edinburgh International Festival. Fringes don’t focus on a single genre. They are ‘performing-arts smorgasbords’ that embrace theater, dance, puppetry, and spoken word. There are fifteen fringe festivals in the United States and many more throughout the world. Fringes are growing fast!

Individual storytellers are purple cows too. Today we see storytelling combined with dance, music, mime, and puppetry. We see more movement, more staging, and extreme body language. There are no limits.

Eighteen years ago, I was part of a group of writers who wrote and published Quality Angles. This book, geared to business executives, was a thesis on what it takes to be successful and balanced in the business world. My contribution was to find and interview people with unusual (Purple Cow type) jobs.

Finding them in the pre-Internet age was a challenge. I searched newspaper archives, library reference books, and bookstores. I also asked everyone I knew for leads. In the end, I found twenty amazing people. Among them was an ice cream taster whose tongue was insured for $1,000,000. I also found a woman who was a professional screamer, a full time rodeo clown, and even a professional storyteller. Imagine making money tasting ice cream, screaming in movies, protecting cowboys, and telling stories (to kids and adults)!

Interviewing these professionals was an eye-opening experience. They were all gutsy, determined, and not afraid to take risks. I asked them about the challenges of having unusual jobs and I asked them what advice they would give to others interested in doing the same. “Be unique,” they said. “Be known for excellence. Provide the highest standard of what your customers need. Provide your skills in a new way to show your customers the possibilities beyond what they think they require.” And from my ice cream taster, “Keep your reputation strong; be known as a person of integrity.”

My mother was famous for saying, “The truth will set you free.” I don’t think she would mind if I alter her mantra just a little bit. Honestly evaluating who you are and what you have to offer is key. Truth in advertising will set you free.

Dynamic and exciting, Linda Gorham engages her audiences by using movement, humor, and sometimes zaniness as she tells imaginative folktales (and more!) updated with “attitude!” Her stories, keynotes, and history programs inspire, entertain, and inspire all ages.

Linda performs internationally as a storyteller, speaker, and workshop presenter. Since 1989, in addition to her work in schools and libraries, Linda has customized programs for festivals, museums, keynotes, conferences, staff development, and corporations.

 * Linda Gorham is a guest blogger for Karen Chace and Catch the Storybug blog. All rights to this article belong to Linda. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without the  expressed written permission of Linda.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Public Domain V: Folktales, Fairytales, Myths and Legends

The Blue Bird
by Edmund Dulac, 1916

We are so lucky to be living in a time when the antique folk and fairytale books of old are available with a few clicks of the keys. This post is the fifth in a series of public domain offerings; you will find the links to those previous blog posts at the end of this page.

If you own a Kindle, many of the downloadable books may be saved either directly to the Kindle or to your computer, and then transferred over. Currently, I have approximately 175 folktales books, easily available on my Kindle so a fairytale/folktale is just a power button away! Happy reading!

If you find these posts useful please take a moment to leave a note in the “Comment” section below. I love hearing from you!

The Children of Odin by Padraic Column, 1920. Retellings of the Norse Eddas and the Volsung Saga for young adults.

A Collection of Kachari Folktales and Rhymes by J.D. Anderson, 1895.

Fables for Children, Stories for Children, Natural Science Stories by Leo Tolstoy, 1904.

Folk Tales of Breffny by Bampton Hunt, 1912; The Voice at the Door, The Basket of Eggs, and many more tales await to enchant and delight.

Folk Tales of Kashmir by James Hinton Knowles, 1888 - “Many of these tales are, probably, purely Kashmiri in origin, while others are undoubtedly variants of popular tales current in India and other parts, which have been adapted and modified to suit the language, style of thought, and social usages of the country.”

Gypsy Folk-Tales by Francis Hindes Groome, 1899 - Welsh, English, Slovak, Bohemia Gypsy Stories and more. “…fascinating reading for everyone interested in the Roma people. These are not watered down 'fairy tales,' but sophisticated and often earthy stories, with 'Adult situations.'”

Indian Fairy Tales - Twenty-nine tales from Joseph Jacobs, 1912.

Italian Folktales - Twenty-one folktales, adapted from Starparola, Basile, Calvino and others.

Korean Tales: Being a Collection of Stories Translated from Korean Folk Lore, 1889. Legends of Rabbit and Other Animals, The Faithful Dancing Girl-Wife, The Enchanted Wine Jug and other lesser known tales can be found her.

The Legends and Myths of Hawaii - Learn about Hina, the Helen of Hawaii, Kaala, The Flower of Lanai, and many more in this 1887 book by David Kalakaua.

Old English Fairy Tales by Sabine Baring-Gould, 1906; Robert the Evil, The Badger in the Bag, The Undutiful Daughter and others await.

Polish Legends, Folktales and Myths – “Many of these legends have been around for a thousand years or more. These legends, myths and stories recount the meaning behind Poland's national symbol and flag, about several of its early rulers and first king, and the dragon of Krakow.”

Portuguese folk-tales by Consiglieri Pedroso, 1882. Meet The Enchanted Maiden, The Vain Queen,The Spell-bound Giant and more interesting characters among these thirty folktales.

South-African Folk-Tales by James A. Honey, M.D., 1910. “This is a collection of South African folklore collected during the 19th century. It includes many great animal tales with classic African wisdom.” The Judgment of Baboon, The Lost Message, and The Monkey’s Fiddle are just a few of the tales waiting to tickle your imagination!

And if you missed the previous blog posts of public domain story collections go to:

Karen Chace 2012 ©
This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.