Sharing Life Stories

From A Storied Career on Twitter, I found out about International Day for Sharing Life Stories.

…encouraging individuals and organizations to this year’s 3rd International Day for Sharing Life celebration on May 16, 2010!
As in the prior years, we encourage you to consider any number of activities, including:

  • Story Circles in schools, community centers, homes, and churches
  • Public open-microphone performances of stories
  • Exhibitions of stories in public venues as image, text, and audio-visual materials
  • Celebratory events to honor local storytellers, practitioners and organizations
  • Open houses for organizations with a life-story sharing component
  • Online simultaneous gatherings, postings, and story exchanges
  • Print, Radio and Television broadcast programming on life stories, and documentaries that feature oral histories and story exchanges

How much of your life story would you share? It is one thing to tell a friend, quite another to put it out there for anyone and everyone to read or hear. Everyone has things we keep to ourselves. But, the overall story could be shared. Still, if you keep out all the juicy bits, the scary parts and the real emotion, any life story becomes bland.

Think of sharing your life story as a test of your own boldness. Yet, keep in mind that you don’t know who may read or hear it down the road. That is just a sad facet of our digi culture.

Boldness has Genius, Power and Magic

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” – From Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

People write about looking at a blank page and getting started with writing. I think the bigger challenge is to look at what you wrote yesterday, find the thread of your thoughts and press on with it. I think it is easier to just write something new each day, something without a past and lacking any errors or regrets.

But, a story needs a beginning as well as a middle and an ending. Keep working on it.

Addendum: There is a little background about the origins of this quote. I looked it up after I was contacted by Terry Rothermich. I also found there is more to the quote. Here is a fuller version, which I liked.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Hyperlocal, What is It?

I’ve seen the term hyperlocal come up three times lately. I decided to spend some time to find out what it is exactly and how it is being used.
Of course, Wikipedia comes up first in the results I get from Google. : Hyperlocal –

refers to the emergent ecology of data (including textual content), aggregators, publication mechanism and user interactions and behaviours which centre on a resident of a location and the business of being a resident. Hyperlocal content, often referred to as hyperlocal news, is characterized by three major elements. Firstly, it refers to entities and events that are located within a well defined, community scale area. Secondly, it is intended primarily for consumption by residents of that area. Thirdly, it is created by a resident of the location (but this last point is discussed because for example a photo can be hyperlocal but not locally produced).

Hyperlocal World – Developments in news, people and the first law of geography. – Tips and discussion for local bloggers.
Hyperlocal 101 – Tools and technique for the hyperlocal revolution.

Blog TO is a hyperlocal news blog from Toronto. It comes from a network, (site is not up).

Other hyperlocal blog networks:

Individual hyperlocal content blogs:

If hyperlocal blogging is interesting you take a look at TwitterLocal, which gives you a Twitter feed by location and LocalTweeps which is a directory built with zip codes. Also, look for blog directories based on regional locations, each blog you find there is a possible source of news and events locally. You may find other locals to post their perspectives, advertising, photos and news stories on your hyperlocal blog. Of course everything local is a marketing/ promotion resource for a hyperlocal blog. You don’t need to be in to top rank of international lists for blogs, keep your focus on local in every way.

The links for networks and especially those for individual hyperlocal blogs are just a few I found when I went looking. There are masses of sites once you know what to look for. Some don’t use the term hyperlocal, they may call themselves citizen journalists, or maybe cell journalists.


What the ear does not hear cannot move the heart. — Cape Breton saying

March 25th I am attending a local Storytelling workshop. I’m looking forward to it and I really like Joanne, the woman who does the workshop. Today I looked up storytelling to find out a bit more and see what we might be doing in the workshop, just curious. There are a vast amount of resources for storytelling online.

From Wikipedia: Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images, and sounds often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture and in every land as a means of entertainment, education, preservation of culture and in order to instill moral values. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot and characters, as well as the narrative point of view.

Storytellers of Canada

Storytelling Toronto

Vancouver Storytelling

Ottawa Storytellers

National Storytelling Network (USA)

International Storytelling Center

Society for Storytelling (UK)

Australian Storytelling

Professional Storyteller Network

World Storytelling Day is March 20th. Great timing for my workshop.

Digital Storytelling and Digistories

High Brow and Low Brow

Have you heard the terms “high brow” and “low brow” before?

High brow being something elitist and cultured and low brow (a negative term for popular culture)  being something very casual and possibly tacky.

Make a list of things you like yourself or things (events, hobbies, etc) which a character likes. Choose which are high brow and which are low brow. A character with a lot of high brow activities isn’t likely to have a low brow personality. Also, making a list like this gives your character a chance to evolve and be more than words on a page. Introduce some new pop culture or unique event to your readers. Make your story memorable by showing them a whole new world.

The Order of Events

Write down at least 10 things that you did today (or 10 things that happened to you today). Make them a short list in the order they happened, chronological order.

Now jumble the order, randomly. How would your day have been different if things had happened in the new random order?

If you change the order of events in fiction could that give your story a whole new plot or at least a plot twist?

Virtual Book Tour

M.D. Benoit’s World

Without a word, she’d given him a clear message: stay out of my life. She could sense him and would kick him out. Her lifepath was closed to him forever.

“Tell me one thing,” he called out. “How do you block me?”

She stopped but didn’t turn back. “I don’t know. I just push back.”


Her back stiffened. “You don’t believe me.”

“Oh, I do.”

When he didn’t say more, she raised her hand to the door plaque.

“I can see people’s pasts.” He’d rushed the words, as if in a few more seconds he wouldn’t have been able to say them. He waited, breathless, for her reaction.

Demetria faced him. She looked disconcerted rather than horrified. “I don’t understand.”

He approached her carefully and stopped half a meter away from her. He tried to enter her eyes. He felt the resistance, not like a wall but rather like a jellied mass that made the halfworld he traveled hazy and indistinct. She blinked, then flushed.

“You’re doing it again,” she said.

Torver smiled slightly. “You’re the only person I know who is conscious of it. Most people don’t even notice, some look a bit uncomfortable.” He shrugged. “At least, that’s what I think. I’ve never asked anyone how it feels.”

“How does it work?”

He took her hand. She stiffened and tried to pull away, but he didn’t let go. “Let’s sit down again.” She let him bring her back to the dining room.

“The people we are today, what we’ve become,” he said after they sat down at the table, “are shaped by the events in our past, by what we choose to remember, by the decisions we make. I call it a lifepath.”

“You can see all that behind a person’s eyes?”

He nodded. “It’s more than that. My mind enters this world where all pasts exist. The person’s lifepath isn’t really substantial although, when I’m there, I can touch it. It looks like—”

“A thread. Like mist, but also solid.” She smiled at his astonishment. “I also use a thread in my visions. It anchors me, helps me to return to the physical plane.”

“You’ve seen only your own. I’ve traveled along the paths of hundreds, maybe thousands of people. I search their pasts. Find out who they are by the events that made them.”

“That’s…” She blinked and shook her head. “Why?”

“What do you mean, why?”

“Isn’t it kind of useless? What do you get out of it?”

Torver snickered. “Secrets, Demetria. Incidents people want to keep buried forever. I collect them. It’s been useful.”

Demetria turned her head away from him. When she looked back at him, her eyes were sad. “Useful but lonely.”

Something clenched in his chest. He leaned towards her, suddenly angry. “I’ve done fine for myself,” he said. “See, I know a lot about you. I saw you slash your mother’s hand with that blade, Demetria. She never could play as well after that, could she?” She paled. He continued. “I laughed when you were five and you jumped on your cake. I would have done the same. And good riddance to Vincent. He would have bored you to tears.” He took a deep breath and let it out in a loud whoosh.

Demetria held her midsection, her eyes wide and wounded. Torver stared at her, appalled at what he’d done. He raised a hand towards her. She flinched, the same way she’d done that first time in the elevator, and lifted her own hand to stay him. Her smile was bitter. “Do you see only the bad things in people’s lives, or are they the ones you want to remember?”

The question perplexed him. “There are places I can’t open on any path,” he said, after thinking about it, “but I’ve always thought it was because nothing important happened there.

How many times do I need to watch someone in the decont unit or taking the bus?” He raked his fingers through his hair. “Did you have a happy childhood, Demetria?”

“Not really, but in amongst the sadness there were glorious times, too.” She smiled. “I was just thinking about one the other day.”

“Tell me.”

She shook her head briefly. “I collect nineteenth and twentieth century antiques, did you know that? I fell in love with them when I was seven. I also had a dog, called Lennon. Every time I was sad, I used to play with him. He made me laugh.”

“I saw you bury him. You cried for a long time.”

“Did you ever see me play with him?”


“You must have very few friends.”

He laughed, but it came out strangled. “What would I want with friends when not even the people closest to me can be trusted?”

“Your perspective is skewed.”

“Maybe I see what’s real.”

“I don’t envy you.” She rubbed the frame of the vidstill with a finger.

“A year ago I found a picture of your mother with you as a child. You were standing in a garden.”

“I remember that picture. It was part of a publicity shoot. You know, the down-to-earth virtuoso. I think it was the only picture in which my mother and I were together.”

“I tried to enter your eyes in the picture. It worked.”

“I was only, what, seven?”

“Just about.” He didn’t dare tell her how obsessed he’d become with her life. “I’ve been restricted to the period going back from the time the picture was taken.” He hesitated. “Until recently.” Torver got up and walked to the window. The dawn light had increased, the cloud-laden sky taking on an apricot hue.

“You tried something new tonight, didn’t you?”

M. D. Benoit is on a virtual book tour to promote her upcoming alternate reality novel, Synergy. During that period, ten people will host her on their blog for one day. There will be discussions on the book, Synergy, its themes, characters, interviews with the author, reviews of the book, etc.

Every day, on her own blog, Life’s Weirder than Fiction, she will announce where she will be that day, as well as talk a bit about her host.

Synergy’s Virtual Book Tour
“From 8pm EST on 15 April to 8am EST on 16 April, I’ll be on site on my
Virtual Book Launch site to chat with visitors. When you visit the site, you can learn about the book, watch a video about it, enter a contest for signed copies of Synergy, etc. but I’ll be there all night of Sunday to chat with visitors. I chose the night so that people from Hawaii to Eastern Europe could have an opportunity to chat with me either in the afternoon or evening, or even early morning. Since it’s a virtual book tour, and that I have visitors on my blog from every country imaginable, I wanted to try this.

So, please come visit, chat, enter the contests, watch the video. I’m hoping it’ll be fun.”

Thanks in advance,

M. D. can be contacted at mdbenoit (at) gmail (dot) com.


I’ve joined up the Book in Year challenge. Wish me potatoes. Luck has nothing to do with it.

Plot 101

Book in a Year
Kate Hardy’s 10-Step Plan for Writing a Book

1. Write your synopsis. Maximum one page, main events only, with no adverbs, adjectives, dialogue or description. (Action, action, action. Keep it really spare.)

2. Check it for holes (i.e., what’s missing?). Are there enough plot twists? Is there enough emotional punch?

3. Write your character biographies, then take another look at your synopsis. Now that your characters are developing, does that affect any events in your book? Can you add more emotional punch? Can you fill in the holes?

4. Break your revised synopsis down into chapters, determining what action will take place at each point in the book.

5. For each chapter, write a more detailed chapter plan. If your characters suddenly start having a conversation while you’re writing the chapter plan, fine — add it in. The chapter plan is for you to work from, so it can be as long or short as you like.

6. Set yourself a target — if you write two double-spaced pages a day (500 words), that’s a 50,000-word book in a little over three months.

7. Keep to your schedule — it’s all too easy to watch a film/call a friend/write a few emails and promise yourself you’ll catch up tomorrow. Do that for a week and you’re setting yourself up to fail — 500 words is manageable but 4,000 need a bigger chunk of time!

8. But be flexible, too. As you’re writing, you may find the book changes — as your characters develop, you might have a better idea for a twist in the plot or decide that something else will work better. (In my case, I get two or three more chapters than planned….)

9. Read it through, then write yourself another single-page synopsis based on the actual book.

10. Check the new synopsis for holes. Do any sections look weak? Is there enough emotional tension? Make notes on what you want to change, make your revisions, then read the whole thing through and ensure the book still works. (If it doesn’t, repeat points 9 and 10 until it does.)

Congratulations! You’ve just written your book!