Telling Your Story
Whether given as a gift to a beloved family member or friend, or purchased as an investment in your own legacy, a Storyteller book will be something to be treasured for generations. Many of us have stories we have long thought of sharing and preserving, but may lack the time, interest and writing skill set to create a readable and engaging narrative version of those meaningful life events. That is where Storyteller comes in. We ask the questions that get the memories flowing, and together we can create a book that will be read and enjoyed for years to come.
Storyteller at Heart
My name is Jessica Redmond. I am a published author who is passionate about listening to and writing people's stories. In 2005, I published the award winning A Year of Absence: Six Women's Stories of Courage, Hope and Love, documenting the lives of American Army wives during the the first year of the war in Iraq. Since then, I have been working on a project to help other people tell their stories. Now, as we face these days of isolation and uncertainty, I believe sharing and preserving those stories is more vital than ever.
Classic, Premium, Deluxe
The Perfect Gift for an Engagement, Wedding, Anniversary, or Graduation
3 hours of interview time conducted in person or via Zoom
2 hardcover books included * additional copies may be purchased *
free PDF version sent to your inbox
up to 30 pages of text
up to 10 photos
Ideal for Telling a Life Story
5 - 6 hours of interview time conducted in person or via Zoom
4 hardcover books included * additional copies may be purchased *
free PDF version sent to your inbox
up to 75 pages of text
up to 25 photos
For Those Who Want to Go In Depth
8 - 10 hours of interview time conducted in person or via Zoom
4 hardcover books included * additional copies can be purchased *
free PDF version sent to your inbox
up to 150 pages of text
up to 40 photos
Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah Commemorative Book
The celebration of bar/bat mitzvah is a time to reflect on family and community values as well as welcoming the boy or girl into the Jewish community as an adult. Honor that transition and the ties that bind with a special book dedicated to the life and history of the bar or bat mitzvah.
Three Generations; One Story
This package includes interviews (when possible) with three generations of family members: a grandparent, a parent, and the bar or bat mitzvah. Interviews focus on life for each generation at the age of 13, as well as a look into the values, characteristics and treasured stories that make that family and community unique.
What you get
After completion of three hours of interviews across generations, we will work together to craft the story of your family and community. The end result is a book, with photos, that can be shared with friends and family and passed on in the years to come, providing a powerful link not only to the past but also into the future. This package includes interview, writing and editing time, as well as a PDF of your story. An unlimited number of books can be purchased at cost.
Contact Storyteller to discuss how we can help enhance and document your family's celebration.
Examples of Our Work
I have always found both solace and joy by the sea. That is something you should know about me. I was, in fact, born by the sea in a small hospital in Atlantic City - this was well before the name Atlantic City brought to mind seedy bars and tacky trinket shops and urban blight, you know - in a hospital by the Boardwalk, in a room that faced the sea. Damp, salty air wafted in on the early spring sea breezes, and the gentle lapping of the tide soothed my infant cries almost as much as my mother’s gentle touch, or so I have always been told.
The sea soothes and brings me joy still. It soothed me as a teenager when I was restless or grappling with self-doubt. I would stroll along the Boardwalk or float in the waves on hot summer days, and I could feel my cares simply drift away, replaced with a feeling of fullness and light. It soothed me when my husband passed and the grief felt like an unbearable weight pressing down on me. My children, hoping to relieve some small part of my anguish, brought me back to the sea and something about it helped me start to heal.
Yes, I have always found both solace and joy in the sea.
In The Middle
I am a person in the middle. Mexican, for sure. It's right there for anyone to see, in my olive skin and in my thick, dark hair. It’s in the memories I carry with me of trips to the market with my grandma; long, bumpy road trips to the humble village she came from in rural southern Mexico; games played with cousins in our dirt-packed yard, turning sandals into toy cars because that was all we had. It's in the Spanish I speak, although as soon as I open my mouth any native speaker will know that “Mexican” cannot be the only word that defines me. Like me, my Spanish has been influenced by the people I have known and the places I have been. A little bit of Spain has crept in, a souvenir from the time I spent studying in Madrid in college. Puerto Rican friends’ accents have sneaked into mine too, not to mention the English I use most of every day, all of which has created a language and a set of not quite definable mannerisms that leave the Mexican cleaning ladies at my job wondering just where in the world I am actually from. Venezuela, maybe? they ask. Couldn’t be Mexico, they tell me.
Of course, my Spanish isn’t the only part of me that has those ladies stumped. It's also in the way I dress; the way I carry myself. It's just different. I’ve learned to always stay aware of the boundaries required of being an American. In Mexico, if I was going up to a group of buddies to say hi, I’d just naturally touch them on the arm or give them a hug. It didn’t take me long after coming here to figure out that the back slaps and casual embraces that were so much a part of my Mexican culture were not going to be well received in my new white, Minnesotan world. There is a certain distance you have to keep in my adopted home. I’ve learned that now; I know how to be in both cultures. But that doesn’t mean it's always easy. And it doesn’t mean I always know where I belong. I feel myself assimilating a little more all the time, but I still have that connection to my roots, and that is something I will never - and would never want - to forget.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I hire someone to tell my story or the story of my loved one?
Whether your goal is to preserve a certain time of life for posterity, pass down cherished memories to future generations, impart wisdom gained through years of life experience, or merely reflect on times gone by, sitting down alone to put those thoughts to paper is, for many aspiring story tellers, often where the journey ends. It can feel overwhelming and just, frankly, not very fun. Working with an experienced interview/writer turns what can feel like a daunting, solitary process into one that is easy, enjoyable, and social. We can guide you down the path of your memories in a way that makes them feel fresh and new again, ultimately creating a document you will be proud to share.
How does the process get started?
The first step is a free over the phone consultation to discuss the scope of your project. From there, you will be sent a short list of questions to help lay the groundwork and start get some memories flowing. We will agree on a time and place to meet (currently all meetings are taking place via Zoom). In preparation, it is helpful for you to talk to friends and family about the parts of your story you would most like told and to revisit photo albums to help bring hazy memories back into focus.
What if I can't remember a lot of details?
The interview process is specifically designed to help connect you with long forgotten parts of your past. If the details of a certain part of your story remain too vague to craft a compelling narrative, we may choose to shift our focus elsewhere. However, you will be surprised how much more you will remember as we go through the process!
Do I get to approve the writing before it is turned into a book?
Absolutely! When a first draft has been completed, you will be sent an editable version for review. Any changes, omissions or additions you want will be incorporated at that point. You will be given the opportunity to review and approve the final draft before it goes to editing and then on to our bookmaker..
What happens if we need more interview time?
Additional interview hours can be purchased on an as needed basis. Generally, most stories can be completed within the allotted hours of interviews; however, should you feel that your story needs more time, we will discuss that and add time as necessary.
Working with Jessica at Storyteller helped me remember stories I hadn't thought about in years. She made the process easy and enjoyable and the book we created together is something my family will always treasure.
Telling my story to Jessica at Storyteller has been a meaningful journey down memory lane into more self-awareness. Jessica is an astute questioner and an attentive, sympathetic listener who has made this a worthwhile experience.
Who Will Know Your Story?
My grandparents lived through the Great Depression, two world wars, and the 1918 flu epidemic. How did they cope with the fear, the loss, the uncertainty? My parents have some stories they can tell me, but other than a few old pictures, most of what my grandparents experienced is lost. I wish I knew more about how they endured these crises, but since they never wrote their memories down, and since I neglected to ask about them before they died, I will never know.
Grandparents and great-grandparents are among the countless older Americans Covid-19 has left feeling more isolated than ever. Visits from beloved family members have had to be cancelled, highly anticipated trips have now been postponed indefinitely, and human contact on every level has been dramatically curtailed. What these vulnerable populations are left with are hours, often faced alone, looking into a highly uncertain and lonely future. Will their children, their families, their friends look back years from now and wish they knew their stories as I now do? And would their telling these stories now help them feel more connected, more a part of the patterns of a life that often feels it is passing them by unmarked?
Time seems to stagnate as we wait for a vaccine, uncertainty about the future breeding anxiety. Reflecting back on the past, instead of trying to predict an unknowable future, can be a comfort, a reminder of a life fully lived. For many older people, memories of the long ago past feel much more alive and vivid than more recent memories. Accessing those feelings and emotions allows the older person to reconnect with their former self in a way that can be restorative and reassuring. It allows that person to build a bridge between the past and the future in a way that actually gives them something so elusive these days: deep and meaningful connection.
Older adults often worry that their legacy will be lost once they are no longer able to share their memories with grandchildren and great grandchildren. For many, those worries have been exacerbated during the spread of Coronavirus and fears that their lives may end too soon. By taking the time to tell their stories now, older adults can revisit the parts of their lives of their choosing, all the while strengthening connections between themselves and future generations.
Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) once said, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Life is a collection of moments waiting to be turned into memories. As a writer, I understand that sitting down to capture those moments on paper can feel like a daunting process. It doesn’t need to be. There are many ways to break the process down into manageable, bite-sized pieces. Start with a list of simple, memory prompting questions: Describe your childhood bedroom. Who was your best friend in elementary school? Who was your first pet? When was the first time you fell in love? Set aside half an hour a day to jot down some answers to these types of basic questions, and soon you will find you have the beginnings of a memoir. For those who need more guidance, there are online classes and programs like Storyworth, a service that will send the aspiring memoirist a question a day for them to answer, and then will turn those answers into a book. For those looking for a more collaborative, hands-on experience, you can hire a writer who will take you through a guided interview process, creating a memoir just for you without any of the hard work of writing. Many writers are currently conducting interviews via Zoom and other platforms, offering the chance to safely have highly focused, face to face (well, screen to screen) contact during a time when personal interactions are more necessary, and less common, than ever.
No matter how you choose to do it, I hope you will take the time to write your story. Stories matter. Your story matters. Now is the perfect time to tell it.
Jessica Redmond is the founder of Storyteller, a memoir writing business
More information can be found at www.yourstorytogether.com
641 Harmony Circle Wayzata, MN 55391