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The Leading Story Monthly

Recorded Interviews with Great Minds in Storytelling

New - Re-Introduction Special!

After 3 years of hibernation, this series is back with a roar!

  • New ways to reap inspiration from these interviews
  • Now available on CD
  • Save $2-3 each month!

Starter Kit—save up to $56.50!

Tony Toledo photo

"A great job. And a fine listen!"

"Your storytelling interviews are great. Listening to Judith Black and Annette Simmons while I am tooling down the pike make my drive time actually enjoyable. I find myself nodding in agreement or surprised by their insight. A great job. And a fine listen." - Tony Toledo, Salem, MA
Free sample: Read part of Judith Black's interview

What I Miss About the Old Days

The storytelling family was much smaller 25 years ago, and most of its members came every year to the 100-person National Storytelling Conference. After a day of workshops, we'd gather on the big, columned porch in the soft evening air, and swap stories.

I remember the late-night gatherings, listening to Connie Regan-Blake (then just Connie Regan) telling us what she felt about stories and their importance. Then Laura Simms might add an experience of hers, and maybe Doc McConnell or Ed Stivender or Jay O'Callahan would join in with another.

I was so hungry for those conversations that, when most of the folks went to bed, I joined the small bunch of folks sitting cross-legged on the lawn, so we wouldn't disturb the sleepers inside. I'd swap stories and ideas with Chuck Larkin and Beth Horner. I was so enthralled with storytelling - and with the people who were really living the storytelling life - that I stayed up with them until 2 or 3 in the morning. I loved the workshops, but this was what I went to the conference for.

What Have We Lost?

Since then, things have gotten bigger and better in many ways. The conference now migrates to all parts of the country. Workshops have proliferated. We have organizations and newsletters, local and national. But it's hard to get more than a few of the most experienced tellers in the same place, anymore. We're scattered about, leading our different workshops and performances in different places.

Sometimes, at festivals, I have little glimpses of that intimacy again. A few minutes backstage with Michael Parent and Jim May, or some unguarded moments on the "performers' bus" with Joe Bruchac or Carmen Deedy.

But we've lost the sense of being a small family who checks in once a year about "how it's going out there." About what it's like for us to live as storytellers. As humans and members of society. Being able to talk about our cutting-edge thinking. Our great, moving successes we've had. Struggles we've been up against.

And when we do have a chance to talk about what's on our mind, it's almost always in print. We miss the fire and magic of the human voice. We miss hearing, not just what people said, but how they meant it. After all, we are storytellers! We need to present ourselves with our voices - complete with intonation, pauses, and even our laughter.

And to have the time to do it. To be able to "stretch out." Not just the three-minute recording on a website. Not just in our books or articles, where we're instructing or putting on our "public face." But the way it was when we sat around and didn't watch our language. And we just said what was on our minds.

We Need To Solve This - And Soon

As artists, there are so many ways we can get discouraged. We are marginalized. We are thought of as offering "frills." If we tell to children, that's too often considered unimportant. If we tell to adults in our workplaces, we may have to pretend it's not "storytelling," lest they think it's babyish.

But we can't really go against the grain like this, alone, indefinitely. We can't be our biggest selves without those deep conversations. We need to know: "How do other humans manage this? When you've gotten to a certain point, what do you think about?"

In the absence of these vital exchanges, we may find ourselves drained of energy for our storytelling. Perhaps we don't know why; we might just find ourselves drifting away from this once-exciting endeaver. All too often, we end up feeling, "I'm struggling. But those other people succeed. That's just how it is."

We may even tend to put the great performers up on pedestals and think "they have it made," or "they're perfect" or "they have this all figured out."

The truth is, they have figured some stuff out. But the interesting part is not only what they've figured out, but also where their struggles are. That's what we need. What I'd love to bring back from those early days on the porch outside of Jonesborough.

How I Finally Thought of the Obvious

A few months ago, I was feeling especially lonely for those top-level conversations. And I had a simple idea! "Why don't I just start talking to people?" I thought, "I know lots of other tellers. Sure, we never all get together anymore, but I could just call them! One a time, I could have deep talks with other folks who have devoted their lives to storytelling.

But as soon as I thought of that, I had another idea. "Wait a minute! Wouldn't it be great if other folks could listen to this?"

Then I remembered - I'm a storytelling coach! What if, instead of just having a back-and-forth, hit-or-miss conversation, what if I make it my business to help them articulate their point of view? To "listen out of them" their best thinking about storytelling?

I thought, "That's something that other people might want to hear." And that's how the Leading Story Monthly was born.

Dialing Up Encouragement?


Norah Dooley photo cover of Norah Dooley's book, Everybody Cooks Rice

"Tonic for the soul, massage for the brain, !"

"I totally loved and was buoyed up by the JBlack CDeedy tapes -- Tonic for the soul, massage for the brain, smiles and belly laughs for the body -- Oh yeah -- it was goooooood! I don't get out much so I appreciated these women in conversation with you, coming to me. Thanks for this good work you do!" - Norah Dooley, Cambridge, MA
So I began interviewing people on the phone. What's the result? With five interviews recorded, I'm even more excited now, than when I had the idea!

Why? Each interview is moving, entertaining, and inspiring. I'm getting a deep sense of connection to these masters of the art. I feel more solidly "on the beam" in my art and my life. In some ways, it's even better than things were, back on the porch in Jonesborough. Because now, I'm giving each teller an hour of uninterrupted attention, where they really get to spin out their ideas. They're interacting with me. They're saying what's on their minds. I'm asking them questions and saying back what I hear, to make their thinking even clearer.

Nobody ever seems to get a whole hour to talk anymore - not with a listener who encourages them to share their deepest thoughts about their life's work. Hearing the first set of interviews, I thought, "This is like sitting-in on a 'virtual backstage conversation' - where everybody gets an hour to say what they mean, before the next person's turn!"

I wanted these interviews to be alive and informal. I didn't want to wait for some big publisher to come along and take us into the studio - and spend $1000 a day recording a scripted talk. So I just called people on the phone and recorded the interviews.

If you really want something that sounds like it was produced by Steven Spielberg, then you'll have to wait for Spielberg to get around to interviewing storytellers. But if you want to hear great storytellers saying what's on their mind, uncensored, without putting on their "public face," you'll want to be a member of the Leading Story Monthly.

If you want to hear these great figures in the storytelling movement just talking to someone they know, about what matters most to them - about what they have figured out and what's just on the horizon for them to try to figure out - then this is essential listening.

Order now!

Guaranteed Inspiration!

I'm willing to guarantee that, from this monthly series, you will learn things you can't get anywhere else. About how to tell stories. About how to create and develop stories. About how to be a business-person and a storyteller at the same time. About living the storytelling life. Overall, you will be not only informed and inspired, but made hopeful. If you're not, send back the tapes and I'll refund your money.

This promise has already come true for me. I have the first copies of these recordings in my office, and I can't stop listening to them!

Why do I listen to them over and over again? To remember who these magnificent tellers are - as artists and as people. To feel my kinship with them. To admire what they've accomplished and what they've learned. To feel "back on track," when the daily stresses divert me from the clear stream of my art.

And yes, I listen to fill my nostrils once again with the smell of the grass in those late-June, Tennessee nights of decades ago - discovering something wonderful, in the fellowship of great artists, who were themselves discovering it with me.

What Regular Members Get

Every month, a new interview will arrive in your mailbox - in your choice of audiocassette or CD. (Each interview will last about an hour - usually, 50-65 minutes.) You'll hear candid conversations with Judith Black, Jay O'Callahan, Carmen Deedy, Michael Parent, Jim May - and many other luminaries in the storytelling world.

Judith Black photoThe first interview, with Judith Black (long-time passionate teller and new Circle of Excellence award winner) kicks off the series with a bang. If you've heard Judith, you know her passion, her power, her common-sense brilliance, and her outrageous humor. You can hear her talk about creating her latest show for the adult community: "Retiring the Champ," chronicling the family dynamics created by an elderly parent's decline - and the possibility of redemption. Of course, there's also the "pickle" she was in one time when she found herself facing an audience she wasn't sure she could respect. And the time the principal greeted her - while carrying a student under the principal's arm like a log! So how do you use storytelling to calm a thrashing third-grader? Or, even better, to give him a little bit of mastery over his bleak, out-of-control world?

Free sample: Read part of Judith Black's interview

Michael Parent photoNext, you'll get the interview with Michael Parent, another Circle of Excellence award-winner, former teacher, sometime actor and playwright. What stories make it more likely that you'll get to that place of effortlessness with an audience? What attitude toward them? When can you "break the rules" of storytelling? You'll learn of Michael's recent efforts to make his story development process more joyful. What gets in the way of asking for help with his stories - and how he overcomes it. Or his surprising decision about what audience he now wants to devote himself to. And much more!

Carmen Deedy photoComing up next is Carmen Deedy, award-winning children's author and devoted teller of outrageous stories for adults. I know folks who are still talking about Carmen's standing-ovation "Midnight Cabaret" a few years ago at the National Storytelling Festival. Not to mention her appearance at the National Book Festival on the East Lawn of the Capitol. And if you've ever heard Carmen's stories about growing up with her Cuban mother, you'll appreciate what Carmen reveals about her storytelling's effect on her relationship with the real woman behind this unforgettable character. But Carmen has even more to say, about the difference between her oral stories and her writing. About being a learning-disabled young girl in a foreign culture - and what strengths she developed as a result. About her lifelong habit of imagining in detail the lives of people she passes on the highway. And that's just the beginning!

Lynn Haynes photo

"Made my friend relax and decide to simply experience storytelling!"

"The CD came today, when I was going to Tellebration with a first time storytelling listener who doesn't see the point. We listened to Carmen's interview on the way. You know Doug, I think that people come into a first storytelling concert either expecting a little old lady telling children's stories, or with the idea that they have to somehow work at studying. Hearing Carmen compare great storytelling to a meteor shower, saying that it was "like being in the presence of nature at one of its grandest moments", made my friend relax and decide to simply experience it , just as he would while not knowing exactly where the next shooting star would be. The result - I wouldn't be surprised to see him at a national festival some year. With all my heart, I thank you." - Lynn Haynes, Fredericksburg, VA

Order now!

Every month, you'll get a glimpse into another storytelling mind. Upcoming interviews feature Elizabeth Ellis, Tim Tingle (Choctaw Storyteller), Bill Harley, and more!

Plus, when you join as a Regular Member, you receive a $20 certificate good toward nearly any product in my online store. In fact, you receive another $20 certificate every year you remain a member!

Get More with Deluxe

1. The interviews with great performers are phenomenal, all by themselves.

But there's more we need, to be fully a part of the family of storytellers. Deluxe Members of the Leading Story Monthly will also get:

2. Every month you’ll get an "inspiration card" showing an excerpt from the month's interview, including a picture of the teller (About 5" x 6" card stock, suitable for display on your bulletin board, etc.).

3. A certificate valid for 15 minutes of telephone coaching or question and answer, whenever you want - $60 value!

4. The Refrigerator Magnet Quote of the Month. With each interview, you'll get a business-card sized magnet with a memorable quote. This way, you can post this piece of inspiration on your file cabinet or refrigerator, where you'll be reminded again and again of what you've learned in the interview. It's a concrete "inspiration trigger" to remind you that Annette Simmons said, "Storytelling is a vaccine against war...." And that Judith Black said, "It is your obligation to speak things that have truth, because this is your life's work." Over time, you'll build a collection of your favorite, inspiring storytelling quotes.

5. A special binder to hold everything in. This three-ring binder will not only hold your Inspiration Cards and magnets, but it comes with holders for your CDs. That way, everything will stay in order, and you can return to the inspiration you want, when you want it.

6) A free registration for an annual Question-and-Answer Telephone Seminar with a Leading Mind Storyteller. This will be a rare chance to ask your own questions of a great storyteller over the phone. $30 value!

The coaching certificate, by itself, is worth more than the small extra you pay for your Deluxe Membership. And the Inspiration Cards and Magnet Quotes are not available anywhere, at any price. Add the $30 Telephone Seminar ticket and the binder, and you are making money by upgrading! But…

7) To top it all off, you get a $50 certificate (instead of the $20 one Regular members receive) every year you are a Deluxe member.

Order now!

And Then There's Super Deluxe...

The best bargain of all is the Super Deluxe membership. Why? It has some of the most valuable additions to the Leading Story experience. In addition to all the benefits of Deluxe Membership, you'll also get:

8. A complete, written transcription of each interview. I know from the Storytelling Workshop in a Box that one of the most valuable parts of each session is the full transcription of each tape, which allows you to:

A) Read instead of listen, in case that's more convenient for you,
B) Be able to mark or highlight the transcriptions, instead of needing to scribble down notes while you listen, and
C) Refer back easily to interviews you've already heard, to find just the part you want to remember or read to someone else.

The heart of the Leading Story Monthly is the growing sense of perspective, the long-term virtual conversation among different tellers. The transcriptions allow you to easily access and cross-reference these important discussions!

9. "Sure," you say, "I'll be inspired by what these folks have done and learned. But this may just raise more questions than it answers. How will I know how all this applies to my unique situation?"

Frankly, that's a good question. So I've decided to give a super-valuable bonus to new Super Deluxe members: two free certificates, each good for a 15-minute phone call at our mutual convenience, when you can ask any questions that the interviews bring up. In fact, I'm calling them "How-Does-This-Apply-to-Me Certificates." I charge a minimum of $60 for a telephone appointment, so these two certificates, alone, are worth $120!

10. One piece of becoming a storyteller yourself is building community. So the Super Deluxe edition helps you share an opportunity: you get a second ticket to the annual Question-and-Answer Telephone Seminar with a Leading Mind Storyteller. That way, you can invite a friend or colleague to experience this unusual form of interaction with you. Another $30 value!

11. Okay, I know that not every question lends itself to a telephone answer. So I'm giving Super Deluxe members even more when they join: a free "Custom Response Certificate." This is your chance to send me a written question - and get a written answer. There is no limit on what question you can ask. On the average, these written answers take me three or four hours to prepare. Since I charge a minimum of $195 for my time, this single certificate is worth over $585! That's well over the total cost of a year's membership - just for this one bonus!

12. Asking questions is fine, you might say, but the heart of storytelling is stories. What if I've written a story and want to know what is good about it and how it could be improved? As a Super Deluxe member, you receive a free "Written Story Critique Coupon". This means you will be able to send me a written story (up to 5 pages long or so). I will email you back with both apprecations and suggestions. This is worth at least $195!

Finally, as a Super Deluxe member you will receive—now, and for every year you remain a member—a $100 certificate good towards nearly every physical or electronic product at my online store. (This replaces the $20 Regular certificate and the $50 Deluxe certficate.)

And don't forget - Super Deluxe members get the binder to hold everything in. You'll need it - just to haul all this stuff!

Order now!

How many hundreds of dollars will all this cost me?

By now, you're probably worried about the cost. After all, you're getting invaluable wisdom from a large variety of storytellers. Not to mention the bonus interviews, Inspirationi Cards, Magnet Quotes, binders, free certificates and all the rest.

What would it cost you to get all this yourself? Assuming you contacted all these tellers and that they'd give you an appointment, they'd probably charge $100-$300 for an hour of their time on the phone. Even then, you wouldn't hear their deepest thoughts, because they wouldn't already trust you. Not to mention the hassle of finding them, scheduling a time, long-distance charges, etc. And that's just the phone call - I imagine they'd charge more if you wanted to record what they said. So one session would certainly cost you well over a hundred bucks.

Of course, you could travel to private workshops to hear them speak, but, again, you'd be getting their "public faces" and their instructional sides, not necessarily the peer-to-peer conversations of the Leading Story Monthly. You'd spend countless dollars and hours in travel, lodging, food on the road, and workshop fees. Suddenly, this information could be costing you many hundreds, even thousands of dollars - not to mention your time spent away from work and your family, etc.

The Regular membership - which sends you these intimate, backstage recordings to your door every month - costs only $19.95 [Re-Introduction special—save $2 per month: only $17.95 per month!] (plus shipping and handling). So, for less than the cost of a tank of gas, you get priceless information and encouragement.

Let's look at all you get as a Deluxe Member:

1. Your regular interview CD. Cost: $19.95. $17.95 Value: $100 or more each month.
2., 4. Inspiration Cards. Quote Magnets. Not for sale, at any price. Typically, you'd pay a couple bucks for specialty items like these. Cost: $48-60 per year.
3. Telephone coaching certificate. Cost: $60.
5. Binder with pages for cassettes or CDs - $5-8 or more.
6. Ticket to Question-and-Answer Telephone Seminar. Cost: $30.
7. $50 certificate for products in my online store.

So, if you look at a year's value - even leaving out the value of the monthly recordings - you're getting AT LEAST an extra value of $193.00. But the Deluxe Membership costs only $24.95 [Re-Introduction special—save $2 per month: only $22.95 per month!] a month (plus s&h). In other words, you save money - and get things that are not available any other way.

What about Super Deluxe?

On top of the $193.00 value for the Deluxe Benefits, Super Deluxe heaps all these:

8. The monthly transcriptions. If you had these done yourself, you'd pay someone at least $50-100 to transcribe. Not to mention the hassle of finding someone to do it, getting the recording to them, picking it up, etc. Value: $600-1200 per year.
9. Two How-Does-This-Apply-to-Me Certificates. Value: $120.
10. Second ticket to Question-and-Answer Telephone Seminar. Cost: $30.
11 . Custom Response Certificate: $585.
12. Written Story Critique Coupon: $195.

When you add up just those extras that only Super Deluxe members get, it comes to at least $1420 a year! Yet Super Deluxe membership costs only $30.95 [Re-Introduction special—save $3 per month: only $27.95 per month!] per month (plus s&h). In other words, you save at least $1084 a year!

And don't forget - you're free to cancel at any time. And the certificates and bonuses are yours to keep, no matter what. Everything is fully guaranteed, leaving you with no risk at all. So you never really have to say "yes," just "maybe."

Order now!

How To Join - and How Easy It Is To Cancel

It's easy to join the Leading Story Monthly. You just sign up on my secure web server - or call, fax, email, or send via postal mail - giving your shipping address and credit card information. I will bill you each month when the current interview ships. (If you prefer to pay by check, you can just send a check for one year's membership, including the shipping and handling.)

You risk nothing. You can cancel at any time - easily. Just let me know in ANY way you like: via the web, email, fax, phone or letter. What could be easier than that?

Special Easy Order System for Monthly Workshop in a Box Members and Web Hosting Customers.

If you're already a monthly member of the Storytelling Workshop In a Box, or host your web site on my server, it's even easier. Just email, call or fax - and I will use the credit card number I have on file - even the same shipping address. All you have to say is, "Maybe - I'll give it a try." And you can cancel just as easily! Just be sure to specify which level you want (Regular, Deluxe, or Super Deluxe) and whether you want the Starter Kit.

Order now!

Save up to $56.60 - with the Starter Kit

Now you can catch up with the first four life-changing interviews - the ones you missed. And save money, at the same time. The Regular edition of the Starter Kit contains these four interviews:

  1. Jay O'Callahan talks about:
    • being "played" by the story,
    • how to create stories from fragments of experience,
    • his growth in portraying characters,
    • honoring your gifts,
    • the story he was too angry to tell
    • and more.
  2. Carmen Deedy talks about:
    • reclaiming her mother through stories,
    • writing vs. telling,
    • how growing up dyslexic helped her telling
    • plus more!
  3. Michael Parent talks about:
    • "going for a ride" with the audience,
    • breaking the rules of story structure,
    • learning stories joyfully,
    • teaching kids
    • much more!
  4. And Judith Black tells of:
    • her experience reaching a tough kid in a poor school,
    • "truth vs. fact,"
    • respecting your audience,
    • combining story and politics
    • and still more!
Free sample: Read part of Judith Black's interview

Normally, with a Regular membership, you'd pay $79.80 for these. Now, as a new Regular member, you can have all four interviews for only $44.73. Save 44%: $35.07.

Free Bonus Interview

Sign up as a Deluxe or Super Deluxe member, and you'll also get Annette Simmons' interview when you also order the Starter Kit—free.

Annette, author of "The Story Factor" and other much-read (and much-translated) books, has transformed corporations, government agencies, and non-profit charities with her revolutionary forms of storytelling. In this candid interview, she reveals her secrets for using story to change relationships, improve cooperation, and increase personal commitment:

  • How to find common ground in an entrenched conflict.
  • How to replace a "victim story" with an empowerment story.
  • The two essential stories that help people "revisit the well" of caring and commitment.
  • How just one person can change an atmosphere of distrust.
  • A simple, universal way to get people telling stories about themselves that matter.
  • How to convince other people of the power of story.
  • How storytelling can reveal your hidden strengths.
  • How to deal with emotions when introducing stories in a corporate environment.
  • The one discussion to avoid when bringing storytelling into an organization. And more!

Gene Early photo

"Nurtured a growing sense of getting back into the storytelling business!"

"Annette came across brillantly, a great balance of wisdom and pragmatism. I'm sure I'll revisit the recordings over time.

They have nurtured a growing sense of getting back into the storytelling business (does one ever leave it?) in my new context as well as looking for other opportunities to use storytelling that I've not been thinking about.

Thanks for the initiative on your part to get these recordings out!" - Gene Early, Palo Alto, CA

Order now!

Save $41.50 by Going Deluxe

The Deluxe Edition of these four interviews would normally cost you $99.80.

If you join the Leading Story Monthly as a Deluxe Member and order the Starter Kit at the same time, you get all five interviews - including the bonus Annette Simmons interview - for just $58.30. Save $41.50!

Maximize Your Savings - and Get the Transcriptions - with Super Deluxe

The Super Deluxe Edition of these four interviews would normally cost $123.80. For this unique information and inspiration, this is a bargain. But now you can receive the Super Deluxe version of all four interviews, the Annette Simmons interview, complete transcriptions of all interviews - and all $1420 worth of Super Deluxe benefits, for only $67.30. Save $56.50!

Please remember:

  • The Leading Story Monthly is 100% Guaranteed. No risk!
  • These unique, inspiring interviews are guaranteed to change your storytelling life.
  • You must join the Leading Story Monthly, to take advantage of these discount prices for the Starter Kit.

    Order now!


    Fran Yardley photo

    "Each one allows the interviewee to speak in depth about what their passions are!"

    "I have just this hour returned home from a whole week of driving. One of the things that sustained me on this trip (besides singing with my mom every last song we could think of!) was to listen to the recorded interviews Doug has put together called the Leading Story Monthly. Each interview is with a well respected member of our storytelling community and actually branching out further than that and lasts I think a good hour each.

    They are fabulous!! So far I have listened to one with Judith Black, Carmen Deedy, Michael Parent and a delightful new voice for me, Annette Simmons who does work with corporations and also reconciliation. Each one allows the interviewee to speak in depth about what their passions are. I found myself also paying attention to the way Doug conducted the interview...using tools we have all learned from him. Appreciations, clarification, summing up and asking if that is what the person meant. All this of course made the person feel very validated and off they went again!!! So I wanted to let you all know of this very wonderful resource. It is like going to an incredible conference and getting the absolute meat of the matter." - Fran Yardley, Tupper Lake, NY

    Order now!



    Doug Lipman

    152 Wenonah Road, Longmeadow, MA 01106 U.S.A.
    Phone: (781) 837-1940
    Alternate Phone (rings the same line): (413) 754-6728
    Fax (toll-free): (888) 300-6665

    This page was last updated on Friday, November 28, 2003
    Copyright©2002 Doug Lipman