Thursday, October 10, 2013

2013 National Storytelling Festival

The National Storytelling Festival

      What an adventure it is to attend the National Storytelling Festival! I was invited by my friend Norah Dooley who would be telling in the Exchange Place. I have wanted to go to the festival for a long time and 2013 with Norah's invite, I finally made it there. We've travelled together to a story event in the past and enjoy the time to talk story business and for fun!

        I expected to hear great storytelling, I did not expect the beautiful scenery, I really never gave it a thought. The there was the camaraderie, the friends, food and fun! The little town of Jonesborough TN. is a beautiful spot, a classic American Main St. and they know how to host a party.

        My hobby is photography, I am always clicking pictures and  this weekend was no different. I enjoyed just wandering the festival snapping the memories of my first visit to Jonesborough.  Here is a link to the slide show.

        Here are some memories:
a train that we thought would never end, a Gorilla's breath, Tim Lowry hearing bells, the youngest and oldest listeners at the National Story Slam, Abraham and Isaac -Gettysburg, a Vietnamese dress, breakfast with storytellers, The Ballad of Ronnie Calloway, folks from New Zealand, Native American flute music in the night air from Joe Bruchac, walking up the hill, golf carts, Sisters Italy-Ireland-America, Music with Chuck Brodsky and Rev. Robert Jones, stories, stories, stories...

        The International Storytelling Center hosts the Festival.  The festival staff were a hard working team to make the event so seamless to the visitor.

        I stopped by to visit at the National Storytelling Network's tent near the Court House and received a warm greeting from our staff and from other storytellers who stopped in to say HI!

        I saw so many storytellers I know. There was also a whole group who seemed much like my Facebook page come alive, there they were in person to talk to - wonderful to finally meet them all!

       Last but not least I got to tell "George Henry Story and the Ghost of New Haven" in the Swap tent. My 10 minutes of story fun in Jonesborough!
You can hear that story I shared on my forth coming CD; George Henry Story- The Man Who Painted Lincoln" it will be out late fall.



Monday, September 16, 2013

Hands Wide Open; Reviewed

Hands Wide Open a CD by Ms. Sheila Arnold Storyteller

         Oh! Ms. Sheila what a collection of stories to touch the heart and warm the soul! I was swept away and lingered in the car listening to the last, not yet ready to leave your rich voice and soothing words. The opening story, Weeping Willow was an affirmation of traditional storytelling and was, as I expected, well delivered with such characterizations that it reminded me of playground days and children's voices.
     Then track 2, "Elaina's Birthday Dance" - what a story of love and surprise! I will listen to that one over and over again and am so happy it has been sent along to my Grandchildren. This is a story that is for whole families, a treasure among stories.

     Track 3, "A Good Stick" was as visual as spoken words get. I walked in search of the  good stick, saw the monument to old man and boy and listened with baited breath for the story Grandpa would reveal. Thank you for the journey into your story. This story should be shared with every family that has an elder moving into a care facility.

      Tracks 4-5-6 sweep  the listener up into a classic story with a vivid chase and soothe through a son's song and you finish by capturing our hearts with "Vicki's" story.

     This is a wonderful collection, I highly recommend  this CD produced by Aslan Productions; Buck P. Creacy and available at  or to email Ms. Sheila

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Launch of a Great Ship- The Charles W. Morgan

        The Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaling ship of a bygone era went back into the water on July 21,2013. Her maiden launch was on July 21, 1841 at New Bedford, Ma. Through the talents of countless craftsman and steadfast fundraisers the iconic ship was carefully restored and readied for a launch. Towering over the shipyard the massive hull waited out the morning rain and watched as the last preparations were made. A huge crowd was expected to come and witness this once in a lifetime event.

         Decked out in patriotic bunting and surrounded by camera crews and seating for dignitaries the Charles W. Morgan stood a final dry watch. The people began to arrive first in a trickle of the early hours, there were others like myself who were there long before Mystic Seaport - The Museum of America and the Sea, opened her gates. There was no way I was going to miss this event! Then the crowds came in droves filling the roads and paths of the museum village and lining the docks in wait for a shuttle ride on the Mystic River. As the noon hour passed the masses began to gravitate toward the DuPont Shipyard or the massive tent on the village green where huge screens were set up for overflow viewing or for those not able to stand to watch.
I assumed a spot in the shipyard near the rail to watch the proceedings and began a long wait. The sun came out and beat down on the growing crowd and we waited mostly in quiet speaking in muted voices. Chantey music was coming out over large speakers set for the occasion and  every one was filled with anticipation.
 The United States Coast Guard Band from New London, CT. filed in and took their seats. They had come to provide the fitting musical tribute to the event. Their playing of the National Anthem kicked off the  ceremony.
 All the while the cool breeze off the river fluttered a bold blue Connecticut state flag flying high on the Morgan.
The speakers began, first an invocation from the Minister of the Mystic Congregational Church, I wondered how many ship launches that river had seen through the years? Each launch beginning with a blessing from the local ministry to send the ship on with God Speed.
The speakers were dwarfed by the hull behind them as they each in turn came to the podium. Awe seemed to be the theme of speeches given, awe of this great accomplishment, of the ship's history and of the hours taken to bring this ship back to sailing status. ( Not there yet, there will be several more months of work to reset the masts and finish  the interior and equip her to modern safety standards for her 38th voyage) There is yet more funding to secure - you can make a donation here:
The commencement of the launch process via ship deep water elevator see it here in my video from the front line of observers at the launch:
 Please visit the Mystic Seaport link to view all the proceedings of the eventful day.
Next spring the final preparations will be done and the sails set. The Charles W. Morgan is going home for a visit to New Bedford, MA. Other ports of call will be at Newport and Boston. The epic journey of the last wooden whaling ship will be a journey of inspiration and education. Now the Charles W. Morgan serves as an instructional vessel to enlighten all to the past and future of America and the Sea.
Crew unfurls the sails of the Joseph Conrad on launch day
Eleven of these whaling boats are needed for the Charles W. Morgan. Many were built by shipyards and museums around the country in support of the Mystic Seaport Morgan restoration effort. Read more about the building of the Beetle Boat at New Bedford;
 the Whaling Boat Regatta info is here:
I am a storyteller who loves the sea stories, I honor my seafaring ancestry when I share the old stories and songs of the sea. My day at Mystic Seaport's Launch of the Charles W. Morgan was a day where I was the witness to a great ship and a greater community that will see this icon  with her sheets to the wind once more. You know I will be there to witness the epic Voyage 2014, as the
 Charles W. Morgan
goes back to sea. Enjoy a few more photos from my day at Mystic Seaport.

                                                Mystic Seaport President Steve White
                                               Keynote Speaker Ric Burns - award winning filmmaker
                                                         CT. Representative Joe Courtney
               In blue jacket in the background is Sarah Bullard descendent of Charles W. Morgan
        Ms. Bullard cracked a bottle of blended sea and river waters on the hull to christen the ship
                                                                      whaling boats
                                                               Ship Joseph Conrad

A Historic Film Clip of the Charles W. Morgan
Mystic Seaport You-Tube on the Morgan
3 Cheers
Huzzah, Huzzah,  Huzzah!
Other blogs I've posted with a nautical theme:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Singing the Chesapeake

      When we teach children  to love, honor and respect the rivers and streams that lead down to great bays and the sea we have taken them on a journey to save the Earth.

      The message is often lost in the abundant activities crammed into an annual vacation adventure. Music has the power to get the message to the children and travel with them for years to come. A song of preservation and appreciation that is fun to sing will be remembered long into ice encrusted winters.


    Published in 2012 the "Singing the Chesapeake" collection by the late Tom Wisner is a voice for the waters and a tool for enjoyment of environmental studies. It is best said in this quote from the introduction page in the book.
    "This collection of songs by Tom Wisner, the "Bard of the Chesapeake," are the living, streaming echoes of a unique lifelong dedication and creative act of service - Tom's deep commitment to environmental education and awareness that he shared through music."

   Here is a collection of Tom's most powerful sentiments and testimony to Chesapeake Bay conservation and care. No need to limit our thoughts to one bay, these inspirations teach the lessons relevant to all bodies of water.

      Tom Wisner's dedication to the Chesapeake and waterways is alive and well in the music he wrote and performed. It is his legacy of music entrusted to his close friends Teresa Whitaker and Frank Schwartz  that is presented in this booklet and accompanying CD. Music, lyrics, background information and an audio track make this a complete teaching tool. Do not limit yourself to the pages and echoing  voice of Tom Wisner though, this music is available in live performance by Teresa and Frank.    will link you to their music and story filled world.

    I'm still humming "Made of Water" after hearing  Frank and Teresa perform it. I laugh along with visions of children when I hear Teresa Whitaker's enclosed piece "How Does it Feel to Be a Fish?"

     I'm loving "Singing the Chesapeake" featuring songs by Tom Wisner For Children of all ages. Additional songs by Teresa Whitaker and Mark Wisner. You are going to love it too!

   Singing the Chesapeake is made possible by Chestory/Chears and Finding Home Productions
    (c) 2012


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chalk Up Student Fairy Tales

         What do kids know and understand of fairy tales? How do they interpret them? I, as a storyteller, was wondering and used sidewalk chalk as a way to begin exploration of the questions.

     I work in an after school program and thought the kids would enjoy a spring afternoon with sidewalk chalk. I began by  reminding them of our visit to a local art gallery. I pointed out how each piece of art had its own space and people walked by admiring them. I proposed we make a fairy tale art gallery on the front sidewalk for the parents to look at when they came for pick up.
        Sidewalks are broken by distinct cracks, this sure makes building a student art gallery easy! Each of the kids was assigned a segment of our walkway.  I said our art show subject was fairy tales they could draw a picture from any fairy tale they wanted, I then gave the example Cinderella or The Little Mermaid.

     Right from the example we have Cinderella in her beautiful gown and wearing the crown. Two of three step sisters are present but not as glamorous at all. The third step sister fell off the curb, I was told this! ( I titled the art for them so we could read it)  At 7 years old this young lady was focused on interpreting the happily ever after part of the story.

   This little lady, just 6 years old depicted the Little Mermaid, again straight from  my examples. She had many questions as to the requirements of the art before beginning to draw. I told them this was to be their art, anything they wanted to show from the story, no rules except stay in their square and physically on the sidewalk. The Little Mermaid is swimming into the cave in her picture. She chose to show a part that scares her, we talked about this and what made it scary, it was not knowing the outcome.
      I love this one, it has a special meaning. This young lady was 8 years old. She chose the 3 Little Pigs to draw. In this scene they are dancing, the wolf is gone. I asked why she liked this story and was told, "because the third pig is smart, he built a brick house". I know this represents safety to this little girl - all the buildings in this housing project where they live are BRICK!
      A 6 year old boy drew this rendition of the Little Red Hen. He is a very physical boy, in constant motion as he drew. The blue spirals were her fields and the pink is Mrs. Hen herself. He commented he wasn't good at chickens - he didn't know any! This tied in nicely with all the garden work we have been doing.
        This artist was 8 years old and chose Robin Hood to depict. I did  not go into the difference between fairly tale, folk tale and legend, I wanted them to have a totally positive experience and for me to leave it as much to their interpretation as possible.  Robin is drawn with a crown, I'm not sure that he would like to be part of the royal family but I believe her interpretation was of power and good. I am most interested in her using the form of a snake as the image for the "bad guy".  The evil serpent certainly has a frown, Robin isn't happy he is fighting for his money I was informed.
      This student is 9 years old. I thought it very interesting that she did not pick a particular story but singled out the common character from  many stories. In her words "they all have a mean guy". This was also her writing, it's boldness certainly showing some of the strength of the character. She laughed and commented he wouldn't be a mean guy when it rained.  What power it is to show what is scary and know it would be gone the next morning!

       This use of fairy tales was a fun project the children enjoyed and were proud of. They were very excited to show family members at pick up time. There was much more excitement over this art, than art on paper, I believe because it was so public a space. This few minutes of sidewalk time was a window into their world. Fairy Tales have a place in children's learning to give voice and interpretation of feelings that are complex. They have the power to give hope and wipe out evil with a single rain storm! This day at our after school was a happily ever afternoon!


Friday, March 29, 2013

Job Posting: Troll Caretaker

                                Caretaker Wanted: for single male troll

       Person of interest in employment as Troll Caretaker should apply by visiting the realty site and arrange a tour of the home. The  current troll keepers are moving on. The well established and low maintenance troll wishes new caretaker to be easy going and patient with troll like behaviors. New caretaker must be willing to relocate to Mansfield, CT.

       Maintenance of troll habitat and current standards of troll care must be certified and met with due diligence. The troll in need has protected this domain for a very long time.  Green Door policy is to note when the troll is out so that maintenance of his Daffodils, snow removal or other seasonal care does not disturb his privacy and desired introverted ways.

       Standard Halloween open door policy is negotiable upon signed intent to make an offer on position. It should be noted that the 1-2 hour event to welcome the children of the neighborhood has been an anticipated and celebrated event of the Halloween evening. Every school bus that passes and every car with children in check on the troll status. It has been that way for more than 30 years, it is hoped the tradition will continue without interruption.

For more information on troll care and keeping and Troll stories see these links:

Troll Story from their home country:

Everything Trolls:

Famous Troll:

Troll Storytelling: Resources For Understanding:

Norway Troll Resources:

Troll Beads

Apply Here:
                                                               Landmarks Realty

 Troll's old friend fox and his resources are in ths blog:


Monday, February 11, 2013

Why I Tried Out for America's Got Talent

  "You went to New York City for the America's Got Talent T.V. Show auditions .......Really? Why, How ? What was it like? Tell me more!" I've heard that a lot in the last week!

Imagine this scenario:
"Hello CBS Broadcasting how much is a 2 minute commercial? 
                    A few questions, of course, yes, Prime Time, yes a show with High Ratings....

                    No my budget is fixed........
Is there a discount if I buy two commercial slots? I'd like  one for my storytelling business, the other a general promotion to highlight storytelling as a performance art, entertainment, and educational program. ...................

The price is what?................................Dollars? ................................gulp  and deep breath, Thanks anyway, I think I will look for Plan B!

I didn't  actually make the call, I  just had to think about it. There is no way we are going to break into that market share anytime soon!  There are many discussions though on how to grow audiences and reach out to both new tellers and listeners. Reaching out would help me and storytelling in general.  The way to do that is mass media, and, it is expensive.

Along came Plan B!

   If I can go to the try outs for America's Got Talent then I might boost my career and help storytelling. There's a chance, because they have not featured storytelling before,  could I get picked and get my two minutes on television? This would take some planning and a strategy. Carolyn Stearns Storyteller, I can do this, I thought, I have to do this!

   Online at AGT I found  information on how to try out. I read this several times. Then thought about my constant question. What story should I tell? There were no tryouts in the Northeast posted but I went ahead with the plan knowing it would work out if it was meant to. There was video entry allowed.

    I chose several stories that I thought were powerful and could hold their power when edited to the appetizer sized morsel AGT would allow. Video entries could only be 2 minutes! I called on Jim Harriman, storyteller, theatre director, play write to coach me and help me hone the words to a sharp  2 minute presentation. Jim's help and advice to get the best punch from the 2 minutes was incredibly valuable. I had my goal in sight and soon it would be in reach. We met at the CAST Children's Theatre, Manchester for the coaching and video session, I really appreciate the CAST space for its quiet and welcome for my project.  I was not telling anyone what I was working on, there were only three or four people who knew about this project.

    The story choice was a tale of Clara Barton on the Civil War battlefield at Antietam. This also allowed for use of my Civil War era costume as I felt in a live audition finding a way to stand out in a crowd of thousands was a critical point. I sent the video and watched their website. Some time later they posted the New York City audition information. I filled out the online forms and pushed send! All planning then was focusing on getting there. On Feb 1, 2013 I got the phone call confirming my time of arrival. They also told me I could only have 90 seconds! I can do that I thought! For the first time nerves made my stomach leap. I don't know what made me more nervous the trip or the try out!

    I am a country mouse, prior to  AGT I had been to New York City only 3 times. The first New York City trip was in high school to march in a parade, then on a bus trip to the Statue of Liberty, and more recently with a friend to research my Christmas Spirits story. I checked it all out feeling very intimidated by the city and the prospect of travel there. I asked friends which also then entailed telling them what I was up to, and swearing them to secrecy. No one was available to go with me, but in the end this was a good thing.

    Before dawn February 2, 2013 I drove out of the yard, my trip to the America's Got Talent try outs at St. John Studios in Manhattan was underway. I told my husband what I was doing the night before and packed my car with costume, I was off on my adventure. At New Haven I took the train to NYC, this was only my second time taking the train, I loved the ride through lower Connecticut. Arriving at Grand Central I got a cab to the studio and joined the line of all pursuing the AGT dream. It was a bitter cold morning as we stood in the tunnel waiting to get into the building. I dressed for the cold and passed the time with a new young friend chasing her dream, her Grandma the hero that brought her to the try outs!!
The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel was a reality on this day!! At the corner they were organizing people to go inside.

    Two security checkpoints and I had my number. The bathroom was so crowded I found a corner in the hallway to change to my Civil War style dress. I had thought this out too, I had some of the under layers  already on, so slip off one piece and slide into the hoop and dress.  Then another line snaked through channels taped onto the floor all the way to the registration area.

I was registered and moved in to he first holding room. This was a mass of people all gathered in sight of a dream and working their way  toward their 90 seconds.
      Slowly, in groups of about 100 the group was sifted. I waited, the hours slipping by. A text message of encouragement came in from my brother, one of my secret keepers. He made me smile, yes I have this, I am in the moment.  First they pulled my group into a curtained area. The dancers left us, then the people needing a keyboard left. Staff then took the instrumentalists, our group was now about 40 and we headed off through the building. We were put in a small room in silence as tryouts were taking place right next door, we could hear the voices singing. Again we were sorted and a smaller group of us left to yet another room. Here they asked if all were singers, if not raise your hand.  I raised mine, they took the paperwork I had carried all day, a storyteller? You will go with these stand up comedians in a couple minutes. Across the room a weary mother playfully cuffed her teen daughter, Why couldn't you be a storyteller! I soon left the singers.
    Four of us were ready, this is it! The three comedians and I were asked to follow our guide to another room, inside were the two producers listening to spoken auditions. The guys held the door and I swept in lifting my big dress to step over a threshold. The two producers looked up beaming - "Great costume!"  The four of us were lined up at the back and they called out names from our paperwork. I went up last, stood on the big green X taped to the floor, I introduced myself and took the deep breath. My mind set its mental clock I had to finish this in the 90 seconds. " She lifted her skirt to step over the dead bodies in search of those with life still in them....." I had their attention, my story was told and it was over. The four of us were done and we left. In the hall we were excited to have  done our piece,we talked on the elevator ride down. Soon I was changed and out into the city.
    I had plans to meet up with storyteller Robin Bady of Brooklyn, a debriefing and celebration. I had not been nervous, intense focus on the job to be done. Nerves could only get in my way. Now though the adrenaline coursing through me was intense, I DID IT!!!
 10 p.m. I post to Facebook a picture and what I had done that day and lay there watching the comments roll in. Someone said I was Brave! Later in the week when I am with my brother he repeats it, he thinks I am brave, and maybe I am. I will never let a city intimidate me again, I can do  my work where ever and when ever,  I am a country mouse, but I am a mouse that roared!


Friday, February 1, 2013

Social Media "You Can't Make Me"

 "You can't make me!", a childhood declaration en route to the unwanted bath, or the dreaded family event, it is a classic line of resistance. Often the phrase is a playground recourse to a dare or command to adhere to some childhood standard.  We learn this early in life and wear the moments proudly in memory.

The time has passed. It is time to put down the memory in the category of childhood power and embrace social media, at least at some level, a beginning!  There are those who yearn for the days pre-social media, the pen and phone days of yore. I am not advocating putting down  your pen or your phone they are both powerful tools in the tool box of promotion, and marketing of you and your interest. Social Media is for business and an integral piece in my worlds of the Arts, Agriculture and Non-Profits. It is not the teen thing, or the young persons place, it is the place for our business today.

A century or more ago there was a resistance to those silly glass balls and wires, after all the fuss the LIGHT BULB was and is, a great idea. The image has become the icon for  new ideas.

Passing over Social Media as a unwanted trend or fad will only leave you with the Edison resistant- in the dark. Social Media is as relevant to life today as Walter Cronkite was to news, so please tune in.

You don't need to partake of the whole pie, just select a couple bites and begin to engage people and build a following. Today your circle of friends can circle the globe, so join a conversation, comment on a blog,( start with this one - what do you think?) favorite a great photo and begin to reach out with all these wonderful tools! Engagement is the seed you sow, what you work on, growth, network, reach are the harvest. Interested in more about my other social media sites? Here is a link to my page listing them:


credit for photo shared through:
This social media prism is inspired by Brian Solis & JESS3.
It's made by
Ethority, a German social media marketing agency. More information here:

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Was Absent, But I Produced...

       I was absent from my blog.Was there homework? Is there a new assignment?  I took a hiatus from writing and posting, chasing articles and images, I just took a break.  I believe in the power of my blog to reach people and to get information I feel relevant, collected and redistributed. A little bit of my family newspaper heritage showing there. On the other hand, I have two day jobs and was in pursuit of several major projects. I took a good look at myself and my expectations and decided, I needed a break.
         One of my projects is the stories of Great Uncle George.  George Henry Story to be exact, the man who painted Lincoln. I have been reading and researching his journals and accounts and parallel history to compile a vision of his life and work. A very important moment of that lifetime was when he sat with President Abraham Lincoln for three days sketching and taking notes prior to painting the portrait that now hangs in President Obama's office.
        Here is what I have produced since the hiatus began. A one hour performance of stories  from Uncle George Henry Story's autobiography. ( unpublished but (c) )  My mother was working on publishing that before she passed away last year, that is something my brother and I plan to finish.
I have recorded a CD of the George Story tales which is presently being mastered and will soon be available on CD Baby,  later in disc format. More info on the performances and CD are available on my website;

     Then there was the video project. The Wood Memorial Library and Gallery  in So. Windsor CT. was prepping an exhibit of paintings by George Story. The Wood worked in collaboration with  The Wadsworth Athaneum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC, The Brooklyn Museum and the Smith College Gallery along with private art collectors. The Metropolitan video team offered to make a orientation film. It was then that the Wood learned I was a professional storyteller and was performing pieces of Uncle George's stories. A magical evening under the lights, wired for sound, standing in a period home with appropriate props, we filmed the Lincoln story now showing at the Wood Memorial through Feb. 28, 2013.
So venture out to the Wood Memorial Library and Gallery check the website for hours they are open  and the special events dates.  Take a long slow walk through the gallery and think about Uncle George sitting before his canvas, palette in hand, stroke by stroke capturing time.

    I'm back to posting blogs now, a little at a time, word by word, capturing time. Thanks for stopping by to read.