I’ve always believed that stories change the world. This is no surprise–it is, in fact, one of the reasons I love writing novels, editing novels, publishing novels, and designing covers for novels. I believe in the power of fiction to touch hearts and tug on souls. But it’s also a power that is true of any story–including YOURS.

As I was rewriting Dreams of Savannah, these themes about the power of stories and storytelling really emerged more than they’d been in the original, and I absolutely LOVED exploring that theme! Cordelia doesn’t fully see the slaves in her house as people until she realized they have stories–that they love and hate, fear and hope, mourn and rejoice. That in their stories, she is not the heroine…she may in fact be the villain.

And that changes everything.

In the novel, Delia ends up collecting stories. Interestingly, this is a theme that also popped up rather unexpectedly for me in the second book in my Secrets of the Isles series, in the form a project that the heroine’s late mother and brother had been doing while she was away at finishing school. Which really just hammered home in my mind how crucial it is that we preserve our stories.

They’re what connect us to each other. To our communities. To our world. To our past. To our future.

As I was editing Dreams of Savannah and writing this new book, I came to a bit of an epiphany: I want to do this too. Not just tell my fictional stories–which I adore, and which I’ll keep on doing, for sure! But I also want to know the stories of the people around me. I want to know how my family arrived at where we are, and how yours did. I want to collect the stories of other people. I want to help them tell their own stories and preserve them for future generations and for their own kin.

That’s where the idea came from for a new project we just launched, called Seeing the Story. You can find the website at SeeingtheStory.com, and I hope you go and explore it. More, I hope you USE it to tell us your story!

Here’s what the site is in a nutshell: it’s a place for story-seekers, story-tellers, and story-collectors to gather. You can tell your story either in written form, in an audio recording, or in a video. If you have one written or recorded already, awesome! You can just upload it. But if you’ve never put down your stories and want to, we’re here to help! You can request a private Zoom link that you can access at any time, and either call in on your phone or do a video recording. All these stories will always remain your own; the only rights we request are to share them on the site and in the associated newsletter and social media.

So on the site, there will be sections for watching, listening, or reading the posts; you can also search by location, theme, family name, etc. You can sign up to receive the latest stories each week (once everything’s running fully with new stories to share, LOL), and you can share as many stories as you’d like!

Know this sounds interesting but not sure what stories you’d want to preserve? We have a list of interview questions to get you started.

Excited about this and want to record stories from your family or community? You can become a Story Collector and download the Collector Kit for free; it includes release forms, starter questions, a checklist of things to include in your bag, and advice on conducting interviews at your church, library, or family events! You can even request (or purchase) some stickers. =)

It’s when we know each other’s stories that we can truly begin to understand each other, and to love each other. Would you tell me yours?

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