Writing

Can A Visual Story Become A Book Proposal?

That's what Toronto celebrity chef Zane Caplansky and I are going to find out, and you're invited to join us.

We're collaborating at Storia.me (formerly named Selfish), the new visual storytelling service where I've been heading content and community for the past year, to create the foundation of a book about his adventures building a deli empire.

Zane's a great storyteller, and his quest for the perfect smoked meat sandwich has taken him on a personal and professional journey around the world, from dive bars and divorce into foodie business ventures on wheels and construction lots, and onto the shelves of Whole Foods and television shows judging donuts and national radio airwaves talking about what makes Canadian food uniquely Canadian.

He's changed his name and returned to his roots and now he's serving handmade, homemade Jewish deli food the way his mother and grandmother taught him, and sharing his biggest lessons about life and how what we crave -- yes, it could be a sandwich -- holds the key to our future.

It's a story we can all enjoy.

In fact, a major Canadian literary agent requested Zane's book proposal.

Two years ago.

Does that sound familiar?

It's a common story and nightmare of many promising writers. You're busy. It's a lot of material to get your arms around. It's overwhelming! It takes time to pick out a narrative, pin down the content you want to draw from when you start writing. It also takes time to compare and contrast other related titles.

So here's what Zane and I are going to try at Storia.me, with its topic-specific, ongoing stories and its moments of photo, video and text:

We'll start capturing chapter ideas for his memoir in an exclusive story, and in this collaborative story Proposing Deli Man we'll walk you through what we’re doing together. Kind of like a blueprint for how we're doing it.

If you're a writer you'll probably find it interesting in a behind-the-scenes-in-publishing kind of way (and you might want to try it yourself, right along with us).

If you're a fan of Zane's food and his life stories, you might like to see him put together this book like he puts together his lovingly made smoked meat sandwiches.

He'll also be sharing about this project on all his platforms -- like a media- and audience-savvy book author needs to -- and inviting people to come peek in and comment. That includes you. We want to hear your thoughts every step of the way.

"It's a good example of collaboration, as well as a brilliant idea and useful for me," Zane says.

We can't wait to get started. So subscribe right now to our behind-the-scenes story Proposing Deli Man, and Zane Caplansky's Storywhere we'll be capturing all the delicious material representing his story, and be sure you're following Zane too so you don't miss any new stories he starts.

If you know anyone who would like to watch this unfold, or take part themselves, share this right now.

See you in the story!

Displaced Nation calls Expat Harem a "blog tailored to the thinking expat"

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 4.04.25 PMThanks to Mary-Lea Awanohara of The Displaced Nation for these kind words! "When the Displaced Nation first started, Anastasia Ashman, an American living in Istanbul, was running a blog tailored to the needs of the “thinking expat.”

"It seemed almost too good to be true: a group of women who were passionate about telling stories that illustrated the impact of the expat life on a person’s psyche. Had Anastasia rubbed a magic lamp to conjure up a kind of foreign harem? After all, her site was called Expat+HAREM. The work she created on the basis of her Turkish expat life has lived on in her wake."

So glad to see this great interview with Katie Belliel and Rose Deniz about their upcoming anthology Sofra: A Gathering of Foreign Voices Around the Turkish Table.

See other posts on this site about Displaced Nation.

#FilmHerStory: Anicia Juliana

For women's history month,  #filmherstory, an addictive Twitter meme calls attention to female protagonists and their forgotten, ignored, or too-little-known stories we want to see on screen...there are so so many. As far as I can tell, it was started by  curator Shaula Evans, film producer Cat Cooper, Miriam Bale and film and TV creator Lexi Alexander. Read through the suggestions in that Twitter hashtag, and suggest your own.

I suggested a story I've been researching and developing for years, the story of a forgotten monumental woman builder who built the most decorated building in the world and spurred an emperor to best her.

Here's where you can see more about my Byzantine princess story in development, including images and research:

 Click on this mind map to get the scope of the story:ANICIA JULIANA & her church of PolyeuktosScreen Shot 2015-03-04 at 12.04.21 PM

I’ve been developing this story since, while creating an Istanbul walking tour for National Geographic Traveler, I literally tripped over the foundations of a social grudge between my superlative-but-forgotten 6th century princess and Justinian — which prompted the Holy Roman Emperor to build his world-beating Haghia Sophia Church a mile down the road. The man needed to best Anicia Juliana. See my Pinterest board about it.

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Successor to Expat Harem Launches: Expat Sofra

So thrilled to share this expat lit news! Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 4.07.53 PM

Katherine Belliel and Rose Margaret Deniz, (Expat Harem book and blog writers you'll recognize whom I've had the privilege and pleasure of working with for many years) are now calling for submissions to their new anthology for expat women writers who've lived in Turkey.

It's called Expat Sofra: A Gathering of Foreign Voices Around the Turkish Table.

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 4.18.54 PM As they explain,

"Follow in the footsteps of Tales from the Expat Harem by going deep into personal, introspective experiences that have a love and respect for the local culture and traditions.

"Sofra invites you to a second course by taking a seat at the Turkish table.

"Just as the sofra is the heart of the Turkish hearth, we want stories that are steeped in the experience of being an expat in Turkey. The editors have a combined twenty-five years in Turkey and are editing this compilation of essays to give back to the culture that has nourished their lives abroad."

If you've lived in Turkey for at least a year, or know someone who has, take a look at the call for submissions, open to April 1, 2015.

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"At the heart of every story is a flavor. Expats pack their bags with spices from home to find that incorporating it into meals, and subsequently their life abroad, can require trial and error, a sense of humor, and even failure. Relationships flop. Meals get burnt. Life abroad does not taste the same. But it evolves. Becomes enriched. And can even become decadent."

Eggshells-of-everything: fiction author Wendy J. Fox's domain

IMG_6311So pleased for Wendy J Fox, winner of the 2014 Press 53 Award for short fiction -- which resulted in today's publication of "The Seven Stages of Anger"! IMG_6312

Thanks Wendy, for the opportunity to read your collection in advance, and for your lovely note. I am likewise inspired by you!

(I had the pleasure of working with Wendy for the Expat Harem anthology.)

IMG_6313My review: "Wendy Fox's prose is strong and fragile at the same time. As she explores in these stories the hairline fractures in our relationships with life, ourselves and each other, you can't help but hold your breath for the big break you know is coming. The eggshells of everything? Fox owns the category."

Expat Harem: 9 Years On The Reading List

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 11.09.17 AM Thrilled to see Expat Harem top this list of best expat books in the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah. Thanks to Expat Harem book and blog writer Catherine Yiğit for the heads up! Leyla Yvonne Ergil writes, "Many an expat has penned their experiences of living of Turkey in captivating accounts of the beauty of the landscape and cultural divides...

"...some of the best reads to laugh, commiserate, and experience the wonder that is Istanbul through foreign eyes."

Glad to be included on this list with:

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 12.26.22 PM And thanks to Elle Loftis for recommending the book in her top 10 Turkey reads in Today's Zaman paper.

"It shows a side of Turkey and Turkish culture rarely portrayed outside of fiction, and definitely not covered by international media. Expats in particular will enjoy this anthology, where many of the stories will undoubtedly hit home," Loftis writes.

Storytellers with iPhones! Want to be a pioneer?

  s_03-3 I'm heading community and content in a new semi-private social networking tool for visual storytelling called Selfish. We're about to launch our beta iOS apps in Russia and Canada, then in the US and Android a little later, along with our desktop component. Big, global stuff for socially savvy publishers!

We're looking for digital media pioneers and adventurous, creative people to work with us as we get the kinks out of the technology, and gear up for a public  launch. We're a work-in-progress, and we want to pay you for your own works-in-progress.

I'm pleased to announce the Selfish Content Creator Program.

Our paid content creator program runs from August 25-October 25. Those dates may shift, so check it out no matter what. (See full details here, and get the link to download the app on your iPhone. You'll need iOS7 or iOS8 to use the app.)

You'll be using the tool to fashion a short, connected string of posts with photos and brief text on a topic, either alone or with other co-authors.

  • You can do this with your friends or family, in fact, we prefer you do it with other people since this is a collaborative tool.
  • Use informal language and conversational tone.
  • Ideal topics are a weekend road trip; details about your obsessions, hobbies or work or sports you play; attending a special occasion, an event like a concert or a wedding or a conference; events in an interest group you belong to.
  • You can repurpose previously published material.
  • You can use personal content.

s_02The aim of this program for North American/English language creative communities is to attract diverse content into the app that reflects best uses of the tool.

I'd like to encourage creatives and bloggers out there to try the app and test its capabilities in telling a story that comes naturally to you, including stories that are happening in your life right now. Capturing real time, ongoing adventures is something this app supports well.

Also, we're going to pay you to start a story but you can always continue your Selfish stories after you reach the pay mark. We imagine you'll want to as you realize the value you've created and the new ways you discover to share your life and interests with the people who matter to you.

What are we looking for? The basics of a winning Selfish story in this program are:

  • has a good cover/title/story description,
  • with coauthors,
  • a minimum of 10 moments total of photos and text,
  • uses hashtags and geotags and @ mentions,
  • with active comments, and
  • social shares throughout the creation process.

s_01Presenting our content creator program in a Selfish story (see it here) is an experiment to show you how a Selfish story works, how it's an ongoing thread of small moments, how it's different than a blog post, how it's different than a tweet or a Facebook status or a Facebook photo album, or a Pinterest pin, or an Instagram photo.

As my fellow content creator, communicator, publisher, writer, transmedia storyteller, as my fellow friend, family member, and member of other interest communities, I think you might want to know about this new mobile, social, online option for connecting what you care about with how and what you capture and share, and with whom you choose to share it. If you have questions, just ask me. I'd love to try to answer.

This story about the program shows you sample screens of existing content and creation flows while you consider the guidelines. It also demonstrates what kind of Selfish powers you can expect to harness for your own storytelling goals:

  • a Selfish story has one link and is shareable everywhere;
  • a Selfish story can have multiple coauthors, all posting into the ongoing story;
  • a Selfish story is made of multiple moments of photos and text all linked together;
  • a Selfish story is created in the mobile app and displayed on the web;
  • a Selfish story on the web is displayed in animated moments with rotating images and blocks of text;
  • a Selfish story is interactive, with comments and likes on each moment;
  • if you’re a registered user, you can subscribe to any public Selfish story so you get all the moments in your feed;
  • and, Selfish is free;
  • there's more, because Selfish is all about user controls, but hey this post has to end some time.

s_04-4Check out the content creator program, or send this link to someone you know who might like to try it: http://bit.ly/SelfishApp

Video Director Amit Raikar's GlobalNiche Interviews

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"It's a community about possibility. I'd like to see this become a life philosophy." ~ Tiny Habits coach and environmental engineer Shirley Rivera

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 6.33.02 PM Just saw the rough cut of director Amit Raikar's video about the GlobalNiche movement shot this spring. Such great questions, and so many distinctive perspectives to fill in the mosaic of what GlobalNiche is, what it means, where it's going, how it works in our lives. I can't wait to be able to share it more widely! Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 6.18.54 PM Here are some stills from the video (Shirley Rivera, Tanya Monsef Bunger, Loreen Huddleston, Bertita Graebner, me, and Evelyne Michaut), and a few juicy quotes. More to come...Thanks everyone, and Amit and crew for the wonderful work.Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 6.31.34 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 6.32.27 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 6.18.13 PM

"This allows me to build the platform to be very consistently me in the world." ~ transpersonal psychologist and life transitions coach Bertita Graebner

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My Complete Handbook On Slideshare

Expat Harem Writer Wendy Jean Fox Wins Literary Award And Publishes Her First Book

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 6.55.11 PMCongrats to Wendy Jean Fox (you may know her as one of the original Expat Harem writers, her piece is Coming Clean In Kayseri  [read it at that link] about a visit to an ancient hamam bathhouse in central Anatolia where Wendy was teaching). Wendy won the Press 53 award for short fiction for her collection, "The Seven Stages of Anger & Other Stories". It will be published by Press 53, a literary press in Winston-Salem, North Carolina this October. I'm pleased to receive an advance reading copy and honored to blurb it!

The Denver, Colorado-based Wendy also joined the GlobalNiche program.

"The GlobalNiche program has been instrumental in helping me get focused on doing something with all random piles of pages laying around," she said.

 

"I was already sending out pretty frequently to lit mags, and getting quite a few stories picked up, but GN helped me get better - what do I really want, how do I get there, what do I already have, what do I need to make. I wanted, first, a book. Now I have to get my novel in shape.

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"I know this is not a coincidence that I began the program (I'm about halfway through) and that this is happening.

"So, thank you to you and Tara and the entire community. I appreciate your energy and what you are doing -- it's an inspiration."

Thanks a lot, Wendy, and thanks for the Expat Harem shoutout in your bio on the book cover!

Faye Brann Addresses The Gap In The Market For Narrative Expat Literature

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.37.18 PM Thanks to expat author in Dubai Faye Brann for interviewing me about #expat #literature and the #publishing world's opportunities to capture expat lit's readers.  She blogs about it here. Here's the interview as it was conducted on Twitter this week -- which is where Faye and I met!

 

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Faye is working on her first book, There’s No Place Like Home, to "look at the often misunderstood life of the ‘trailing spouse’ abroad". At her blog she explores the gap in the market for narrative expat literature.

Inspirations & Friends & Mentors = The Kind Of Relationships I Want To Have

 

 Thanks Billie, you made my day!

Building Meaningful Community With Social Media

photoWatch a video here, thanks to videographer Stacy McKenzie. Thanks to the organizers, sponsors and participants of the Exceptional Women In Publishing conference. Here's just a tiny peek into an inspiring day. More to come, including resource links to the things we mentioned during the below panel.

 

 

 

 

 

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Byzantine Paving Stones For My Istanbul Intern Marina Khonina

Marina KhoninaSO PLEASED to be able to provide this LinkedIn reference to my Byzantinist intern Marina Khonina on her road to applying to grad school!

And what a fun walk down memory lane on my pop cultural/historical project that remains in development...

Marina was a joy to work with in Istanbul on my pop cultural, Byzantinist research project about the Church of Polyeuktos.

Her facility with Byzantine history and exuberant curiosity helped me develop the outline for an art historical saga of interest to a modern audience about a Byzantine aristocrat, Anicia Juliana, and her architectural rivalry with Emperor Justinian which resulted in him building a wonder of the ancient world and seat of Christianity for 1,000 years (Haghia Sophia), and her forgotten.

Marina contributed valuable context and insight into the story’s most compelling themes of religious symbolism and gender roles, including the link between Jerusalem and Constantinople and

  • what it meant for a woman to be a non-royal patron of the arts
  • what it meant to equate herself with King Solomon and the emperor
  • what it meant to claim she was head of the Christian church

...all of which Juliana did in building her edifice.

 

(You begin to see why I picked this subject to develop.)

Marina added rich new perspective to how Juliana was misrepresented historically vis a vis the lesser-accomplished Empress Theodora, and the daring Chalcedonian statement Juliana made in restoring another woman’s building project.

I’d recommend Marina for inclusion in any advanced research venture.

Another Storytelling Venture Sheds Old Media Constraints For 21st Century Creativity & Context

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 4.09.26 PMBlogger and columnist Ezra Klein (formerly of the Washington Post) just announced in The Verge his new news venture "Project X" at Vox Media. It aims to address the question: "why hasn't the Internet made the news better at delivering crucial context alongside new information?" "New information is not always — and perhaps not even usually — the most important information for understanding a topic," Klein writes in The Verge. That's the way news has functioned in the past, often due to space restrictions. "The web has no such limits. There's space to tell people both what happened today and what happened that led to today."

As a 21st century content creator with an old media background, I'm familiar both with the restrictions Project X's founders (including Melissa Bell and Matthew Yglesias ) have been bristling under and the avenues they want to pursue.

News is a natural field for building a rich new ecosystem of information around content.

 

For the past decade I've been committed to doing on a personal scale what Project X aims to do for news: Plumbing the content of deep interests and creating transmedia stories that can live and grow online.

Our time is coming!

SEO Yourself By Filling Out Your GooglePlus Profile

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Your G+ profile page is a web-wide cheat sheet for you & everyone else.

 

And when it’s time to update your avatar, your bio, your tagline, or whenever you’ve got fresh content to share, it'll help you remember where you are online too.

By hot linking all the places you need to update you’ll make your task so much easier. Since your G+ profile is prioritized by the Google search engine, when someone searches for you, they’ll also find all the other places you exist online too.

That's from my latest guest post for Jan Gordon's Curatti: Editors of Chaos.

I've been writing a weekly series about online community building at this social business and marketing site. My posts so far have incorporated aspects of curation, storytelling, branding, content strategy, conversation, cocreation, collaboration, discoverability, persuasion, fascination and engagement -- as well as highlighting best practices and work of industry figures I see leading the way.

Some of my Curatti guest posts:

Featured By Global Living Magazine As One Of Best Expat Books

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Thanks to Shelley Antscherl for naming Expat Harem among best expat anthologies in the January/February 2014 issue of Global Living Magazine!

I'm proud the book is listed alongside the work of editors like Suzanne Kamata of "Call Me Okasaan: Adventures In Multicultural Mothering", Monica Neboli of "Drinking Camel's Milk In The Yurt: Expat Stories from Kazahkstan", Diane Dicks of "Ticking Along Too: Stories About Switzerland", and Kate Cobb of "Turning Points25 Inspiring Stories From Women Entrepreneurs Who Turned Their Careers and Their Lives Around".

And thanks to Summertime Publishing publisher, Expat Book Shop proprietress and fellow expat writer Jo Parfitt for the review. "A fine bit of not just good writing, but literary writing, and that is due to the fabulous work of the editors."

See what else is in the issue here. Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.38.03 AM Global Living is a luxury lifestyle magazine for global citizens and sophisticated internationals who live, have lived, or may someday will live outside their country of origin.

Most-Anticipated Launch Of The Season: Jan Gordon's Curatti Editors Of Chaos

New York-based Jan Gordon (a consummate curator on the social business scene) has created a one-stop shop for B2B business people looking for clarity and direction through the digital overwhelm. A longtime Twitter acquaintance of mine, my fellow attendee of GetStoried's Michael Margolis' inaugural 2010 Reinvention Summit and my fellow expert generalist, Jan just launched the Curatti salon.Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 4.53.22 PM

The site is for entrepreneurial business people looking for meaning in the chaos of all this information, looking to reinvent the way they do things to get better results.

She told me she feels like Gertrude Stein, a catalyst and a conduit to draw together social, curation, content and community thought leaders (like my beloved #Ideachat's founder Angela Dunn) to help entrepreneurs find their own way.

"I live in the digital world, and help people navigate that and reblend it into the actual world," she says. The woman is my doppelgänger.

"We're going to be focusing on how to turn conversation into conversion," Jan says, about today's business quest to reach a moving target online through content and engagement. "Knowing who you're speaking to, setting up great content, and helping them gain knowledge and insights is how you're going to build a following."

The idea for the site came out of her own overwhelm as an early adopter. Now she's facilitating a platform for content, people to watch, news and trends, case studies, tools and training.

"People are desperate for context. That's what data can't give you, context. People want it straight. What do I need to know, what do I not know that you can teach me?"

I'm pleased to say that I will be a content partner to Curatti, charged with supplying a series of provocative thinking about community building on social networks, especially for businesses going through their own second acts (that's my thing, isn't it!?) and offering tips to navigate the disruption.

Turkey's Top Selling Novelist Elif Shafak Recommends Expat Harem in The Telegraph

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 9.13.43 AM Thanks, Elif!

Turkey's highest selling novelist Elif Shafak recommends Tales from the Expat Harem, the anthology I coedited with Jennifer Gokmen, in the United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph.

In "Flights of the imagination: Elif Shafak on books about Turkey", she writes about Expat Harem:

"It brings out the voices of Western and Eastern women in Turkey. Travellers, students, teachers, housewives – the cultural shock that some of them went through, their personal encounters and how they made Turkey, or perhaps limbo, their home."

Elif also wrote the foreword to our book back in 2005 for the Turkish Dogan Kitap editions in both English and Turkish!