What’s Your Story?

Long before there were computers or typewriters, or even pen and ink, civilizations passed on their stories, anecdotes, wisdom, traditions, songs and more via an oral history. StoryCorps is a national oral-history project dedicated to preserving in sound the everyday history and unique stories of Americans. The project is collaboration between the National Public Radio (NPR), the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and Sound Portraits Production.

David Isay, an award-winning NPR documentary producer, started StoryCorps in 2003. He modeled it after the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the 1930’s, through which interviews with average Americans across the country were recorded. The first StoryCorps booth was opened in 2003 at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. A second permanent booth is at the site of the World Trade Center. In 2005, the two mobile recording studios began crisscrossing the country recording interviews and the life-stories of Americans from all walks of life. They’ve come to Montana on several occasions.

The way it works is whenever a StoryCrops Mobil recording van comes to your area, you call 1-800-850-4406 to make a reservation for a recording session time. Instead of being questioned by a stranger, participants are interviewed by someone they know. Two friends or family members sit down with each other and talk for forty minutes about their life experiences, their moments of great joy and sorrow, or any topic they select. There is no required format. One person interviews the other person or they just talk. At each recording session, there is a trained facilitator present to help guide participants and handle the technical aspects of making the recording.

At the end of the recording session, the participants receive a broadcast-quality CD to keep for themselves. With the participant’s permission, a copy of their CD is sent to the American Folklife Center to be archived at the Library of Congress so future generations can listen to the recordings. You can listen to recorded stories or watch the animated shorts (which I love) at http://storycorps.org/listen/

StoryCorps’ mission is to record the stories of everyday Americans, one story at a time. Their goal is to collect over 250,000 such stories over the next ten years. They have collected over 55,000 so far. Their homepage is: http://storycorps.org/

Thanks for stopping by,




Back to School — for writers

By Leslie Budewitz

So the kids are back in school. You bought their pens and pencils, their crayons and computers, their notebooks and Netbooks. And every evening you talk about what they did that day and what they learned.

What about you? What are you doing for your own writerly education?

Well, I have an idea. Take yourself the 24th Annual Flathead River Writers Conference, sponsored by the Authors of the Flathead, on Sat-Sun, Sept. 27th-28 at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell. Registration for both days is $160; for one day, it’s $90. (Lunch included)

Authors logoWe’ve got a terrific lineup. Romance writer Margie Lawson uses her background as a psychologist to help writers dig deeper and take their characters, plots, and language further than they thought possible. Classes at “Margie U” are legendary. Thriller writer James W. Hall taught writing at Florida International University for decades — and knows how to tell stories that will scare the bejeebers out of you. Outdoor writer, magazine editor, and mystery writer Keith McCafferty will focus on story in fiction and nonfiction. Film maker Adam Pitman will talk screenwriting and horror. Agents Bree Ogden and Jim McCarthy will be on hand, sharing wisdom about the marketplace. And AofF alumnae Kathy Dunnehoff and I—both Montana Women Writers members and bestselling authors—will teach Sunday afternoon. Kathy will teach her course “Start Your Screenplay Today!” And in my workshop, “Building Character,” we’ll focus on discovering what matters most to your characters and using that to build compelling fiction.

Pack your pencil bag and join the fun.



Leslie Budewitz is the author of the national bestselling Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries. Death al Dente won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, followed by Crime Rib (July 2014). She is the only author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. 


Beta Readers

Scattered Work

Scattered Work

Beta readers are folks who help a struggling writer make sense of their manuscripts.  They spend their time, hours of it, reading and editing.  Their pay is none.   Webster’s Dictionary defines the word beta as 1. name of the second letter of the alphabet 2. the second of a group or series 3. the second brightest star in each constellation.   Wow.  I have 5 beta readers for my new story, Ratham Creek. So far I have received two back and they are spread across my dining room table and I am slowly, page by page seeing what my peers think of my story.  I feel humble and blessed.  They like it.  However that does not mean there isn’t any red marks on almost each page which I had thought was just fine and dandy.  Yikes.  I like and approve of every single suggestion and know the story will only improve.  Thank you beta readers.  You are a gift of unmatchable value. And, yes, you are all a bright star.                                                                                          red ink (2)business card (2)


Marie F Martin





Warmth in Autumn

Karen Wills

Autumn signifies change, always from warm to frosty. Retired and living just outside Glacier National Park, I think of tourists leaving, aspen turning gold, and larch raring up in lime- green, then pumpkin-color before giving up their needles altogether.

Humans change our colors, too. Russets and burgundies replace the pinks and yellows of spring and summer. People and nature blaze as though celebrating heat itself, then concede to the pastels of winter’s palette.

Another change is, of course, the start of school. I’ve always loved it: new teachers, students, subjects, textbooks, and supplies. I loved it for myself and my children. I always had such fun gazing down from my second story window as I dressed for work, and seeing their junior high marching band (the school one block away) strutting down our street in practice, their teacher alongside, looking pleased with himself, them, the crisp and promising morning.

And I loved teaching. The last stint of that was four years in Wales, Alaska, an Inupiaq subsistence village on the tipIMG_0175 of the Seward Peninsula on the Bering Strait. Fish are still hung to dry on racks there, nets put out for salmon, reindeer corralled once a year. The tundra is vast and empty. Winter is unforgiving. But the treeless land has its wonders. Autumn colors are in the grass, salmon berries, and blueberries.

After our first year or two the villagers would greet us with, “Welcome home, Jerry and Karen.” And at the annual Kingikmiut Dance Festival which occurs every September, bringing Eskimo dancers from all over the region to perform, drum, visit, and eat Eskimo food at the school gym, Faye Ongtowasruk, the most senior and respected elder in the village, invited me to join her and others in the Invitational Dance that started the festival. The honor and acceptance it signified warmed me thoroughly against the coming Arctic winter.
What warms you in autumn?

My Dance with Agents

By Ann Minnett

Would I like to have a fat contract with a large publishing house? Yes, I would. But I don’t.

I did give Serita’s Shelf Life one last chance at representation by contacting almost seventy agents. I limited contacts to legit agents accepting email submissions in my genre. Three or four rejections came back within hours. Most dribbled in over a few days. Some agents would never contact me as they made clear on agency websites.

About a month later, two agents wanted to read my entire manuscript! I was thrilled because no professional had ever asked to read more of my work. Both let me down gently, and one included a personal note of support.

Another week elapsed with no further responses. If I held onto that manuscript another week, I’d revise chapter numbers, change tense on Serita’s POV, or something equally compulsive, so I self-published Serita’s Shelf Life in late August. Then two more agents requested my manuscript. What?! After a walk in the woods I realized it didn’t matter. Self-publishing is my path, and an agent’s validation or rejection can’t change that.

Oh, I love maturing as a person and writer. BTW Serita’s Shel Life is available in print or as an ebook.