Dear Friends,

Hope the beginning of the summer finds you well, and able to slow down a little. Truth be told, summer is my favorite season.

 

IÕm off the road, mostly, although I have a lot of work around here. IÕm working on another book, which I will not talk about, for fear of jinxing it. IÕm also getting ready to teach a class in August (more on that below), and working on an orchestral piece with my friend, Paul Phillips.

I am really hoping my sailboat gets painted and dropped in the water. And my hives produce honey. And that I play softball. And play music with friends.

     
A
The Teaching Power of Stories
A
  I will be teaching a class this August at Pendle Hill, a retreat center in Philadelphia on teaching and story. While there will be some practical aspects to the application of story in the classroom (regardless of subject, setting and age group taught), this will also be a time for reflection on our lives as teachers. I know thereÕs already a very interesting group of participants Š from primary grades to college, math, language, art, computer and science teachers Š and some who donÕt teach within traditional structures. It should be an incredible time; when I’m not nervous about being ready for it, I’m excited about what we’ll be doing and hope that if this is enticing you will consider joining us. You can check out the description at the Pendle Hill website.  
   
A New Stories A
 

IÕm working on a new set of stories for the fall festivals (Timpanogas, Southern Ohio, Cave Run, the National Storytelling Festival & Alabama Tale Tellin'), and they seem to be focusing on my high school years (first jobs, girlfriends, etc.)Š IÕm performing them for small audiences around New England this summer, trying to get them in shape. As I work on them, I am beginning to really understand my process Š writing, then rewriting, then putting the paper down and telling them with an audience as an improvisation to see what happens. I have to have people in front of me, or my mind wanders. I must have learned that in grade school somehow. ItÕs a scary process, not depending on an exact script, but itÕs the way I work.

 
   
  Books  
 

I just finished Cataloochee by Wayne Caldwell Š a great book set in a corner of the Smokies that captures the day to day experiences of three generations of mountain folk. IÕm now in the middle of Richard SennetÕs book The Craftsman Š a dense but really thought provoking book about the place of craft Š conscious and dedicated work Š in todayÕs world. A long time fan of James Lee BurkeÕs David Robichaux mysteries, I recently discovered and enjoyed Henning MankellÕs Kurt Wallender mysteries.

I also heartily recommend City of Thieves by David Benioff– if a book can be hilarious and terrifying at the same time, this is it – the quest for a dozen eggs in a Nazi besieged Stalinist Leningrad – violence, language, etc., but boy what a story.


Finally, I have been listening, with my mouth open, to Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him and the Age of Flimflam by Pope Brock. Without going into too much graphic detail, it involves a messianic quack, men’s virility, goat (um) glands, and includes cameos by Sinclair Lewis, H.L. Mencken, the Carter Family, Patsy Montana, and almost everyone else who lived in the 20’s and 30’s. The truth is stranger than fiction.

(Hi all - Debbie here...) My latest book recommendations include the sequel to Jennifer Weiner's Good in Bed (read this first) -called Certain Girls - because if you are like me and you enjoy a book, it's always fun to read more about the characters you come to love.... And a WONDERFUL read, The Help by Kathryn Stockett - a look at the relationships between white women and their black maids in Jackson, MS the 1960's - this is a powerful page-turner - a look at social issues and social awakenings from perspectives that were new to me - deeply moving, honest and funny with characters that linger. And, while working on my newest quilt I've been listening to The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell - I know Bill has written about this but I'm echoing his comments - this is a wonderful and very thought-provoking book, highly recommended. Happy Summer - back to Bill...

Of course, we love hearing from you about what you're reading so please keep emailing us with your suggestions. And don't forget to check out our Book Picks page, where we list my picks, Deb's picks, your picks and some all time favorites.

 
   
  Spending Summer in your car?  
 

Squabbling or stories, you choose...

DonÕt forget Š nothing makes long hours in a car pass like some good stories. I happen to know someone who has them. See our Summer Special below.

 
   
  Further Adventures in Blogging  
 

Three months into my blog- Song, Story and Culture -and IÕm not dead yet. A young friend of mine, just graduated from college, called me up to say how much she liked it. ŅOnly once a week?Ó she asked, ŅMy friends post three or four times a day.Ó

Eeek.

Not in this lifetime.

But I’m getting very interesting comments from a wide variety of people. Now I have to spend time connecting with other like-minded folks. Take a gander. And, if you know of any bloggers that I should read and connect with, please let me know.

And, I've just started posting my thoughts on school/parent/kid connections for the PTO Today website that focuses on schools and families - check out my first posting entitled Encourage Learning - Leave Things Around the House and let me know what you think. I'm very happy to be working with this wonderful organization.

Enjoy your summer and please come and say hi if I'm performing near you!

 
 
 
     
From the Office
   
  Bill's calendar  
 

In July and August Bill will be in Indiana, Oregon, Pennsylvania & Missouri. If you're nearby, check him out. And in September and October he's got several storytelling festivals booked (listed above in New Stories). If you've never been to a storytelling festival put it on your to do list.

 
   
  Awards & Press  
  We've just learned that "I Wanna Play" and "Yes to Running" (both CD and DVD) have earned some new honors. The 2009 Creative Child Awards Program consisting of over 100 moms and educators has awarded "Yes to Running" CD a 2009 PREFERRED CHOICE AWARD and awarded "Yes to Running DVD" a 2009 SEAL OF EXCELLENCE AWARD.

And, The JPF Awards (Just Plain Folks Music Organization) have just announced their 2009 nominees. "I Wanna Play" is nominated for best Children's Album; "Yes to Running" is nominated for Best Storytelling Children's Album; and "I Like to Sing" is nominated for best Children's Song. The awards will be announced on August 29th at a ceremony in Nashville. If you are a musician or if you know a musician this is a wonderful organization to know about...check them out and become a member... www.jpfolks.com

Finally, there have been some great articles about Bill's work in various papers as he tours the country...here are a couple of recent ones if you'd like to read them. (The Missoulian and The Times Union) Enjoy.

 
   
  Summer Special  
 

To stock up for those long car rides and summer birthday gifts we're offering a 20% discount on all orders. Enter the promotional code "Summer09" when you visit our online store. Offer is good now through July 31, 2009.

 
   
  Vacation!  
 

One of our summer projects is to paint our office. Easier said than done as it means we need to pack things up and take things off the walls – so – we are going to close up for a couple of weeks and limit our schedules for the rest of the summer to re-organize our space and get ready for fall. We promise to process all orders, return all messages and emails though you might need to wait a day or two before you hear from us.