Quote of the Month
"This family has arms that willingly embrace. Arms that comfort and support in times of sorrow and in times of happiness. This family knows there is great strength in our connections that can empower our future. This family needs one another, sharing knowledge and help. This family happily grows by opening its doors wide and welcoming new family members. This family is my family. I am so grateful to be part of your lives."
Harolyn "Mombo" O'Brien
Turn Your Parents or Grandparents' Stories into a Book
We know a lot of people right now can't see their parents or grandparents because of stay-at-home orders, rules at nursing homes/senior centers, and/or travel restrictions. Phone calls and Zoom calls certainly help, but it's not the same.
So with Mother's Day and Father's Day coming up, we wanted to use this month's newsletter to share with you two really cool services out there that help record your parents/grandparents' stories into physical books.
Company Name: StoryWorth
How it works: Once a week, StoryWorth sends a question to your mom/dad/grandma/grandpa designed to encourage a story. Your loved one replies with a story that you receive each week.
At the end of the year, StoryWorth puts these stories into a really nice keepsake book.
What's cool about this: Not only do you receive the physical book at the end, this also creates a meaningful interaction all year long. Especially if you're not able to see them in person. Since it's only one prompt a week, it doesn't feel overwhelming or like a pesky homework assignment. And you don't have to personally come up with the story prompts.
Pricing: Normally $99. They're running a $10 off promotion right now for Mother's Day which I assume will also be in place for Father's Day.
Company Name: StoryTerrace
How it Works: You share with StoryTerrace a little bit about your loved one (or your parent/grandparent could do this directly). StoryTerrace recommends a few writers/biographers who they think match the project. In some cases, these can be local writers. Before Covid-19, interviews were done in-person or over the phone/video call. Now, these are all being conducted virtually.
There's a questionnaire to fill out and an interview session (4-10 hours depending on the package). After gathering the stories, the writer compiles everything into a book. Then, similar to making a scrapbook on Shutterfly, you would upload photos to go along with the stories as well as designing the cover.
StoryTerrace prints beautifully bound hardcover books to distribute to your family.
What's cool about this: The books are really high-quality. Having the help of a professional writer brings the stories together. And the act of sitting down for a couple of hours, telling stories to an interviewer can feel more easy and natural than writing the stories themselves.
Pricing: They offer three tiers: Junior, Senior, and Premium Writer. Here's a look at each one:
Junior Writer - $1,900
55-60 page hardcover book
4 hours of interviews
33 pages of text containing 7,500 words
Include up to 20 photos
4 print copies + a digital copy of the book
Senior Writer - $3,950
80-90 page hardcover book
6 hours of interviews
55 pages of text containing 12,500 words
Include up to 30 photos
4 print copies + a digital copy of the book
Premium Writer - $7,450
115-125 page hardcover book
10 hours of interviews
90 pages of text containing 20,000 words
Include up to 40 photos
4 print copies + a digital copy of your book
Reclaiming Something You Love to Do
In last month's newsletter, we talked about how people are journaling more and writing down stories about this difficult moment in history. For some, this is reclaiming a love for writing. Others it's a nice distraction. Maybe a little of both. Either way, these will be meaningful and important accounts for our families to have in 10, 20, 50+ years from now.
Keeping that spirit in mind, here's an awesome dance video that shows how stories don't always have to be told through the written word. Ashley O'Brien, Heather Stiff, Jen Florey, Allyson Lowis, Mikella VanDyke, Kristen Brown, Stephanie Rankin, and Molly Vass all met in the dance program at Hope College (Class of 2012). Here they are eight years later reclaiming something they love to do, creating and sharing a meaningful story called "Dancing at a Distance."
Supporting Local Restaurants
One of our co-founders (Chris O'Brien) writes a weekly blog on ChicagoNow called Medium Rare. Despite the name, this isn't normally a food blog. But for the last few weeks, and weeks to come, Chris will be using the space to share stories about restaurants in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.
These writeups are focused more on the stories of the owners, how they started their restaurant, and all the hard work that went into it vs. write-ups on the food itself (although the food at these places is incredible). Here are the first two restaurant feature stories (click on the images to go to the story):
Weekly Thoughts on Writing, Publishing, and Storytelling
Trying to stick to a pace of every Tuesday and Thursday. These are short blog posts to provide encouragement to anyone working on a book of their own. Recent ones include: