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Background of Storytelling World

From the "eyes" of Flora Joy

The periodical Storytelling World has an interesting and exciting history. Below is a brief summary of our adventures:

The forerunner to Storytelling World: During my '80s tenure as President of the Tennessee Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling (TAPPS), there were frequent discussions about the need for additional periodicals that directly addressed storytelling issues. At the time, the only other journal specific to storytelling was the NAPPS-produced National Storytelling Journal. Although it was highly respected, it wasn't "enough" for eager, up-and-coming storytellers. Other periodicals (such as Parabola) only indirectly addressed the concerns of professional storytellers. Because of my interest in journalism (and because both of my arms were twisted-to-the-breaking-point by members of the TAPPS board), I soon became the editor of a new TAPPS-sponsored storytelling journal to be used as a benefit for its members. We named it the Tennessee Storytelling Journal, and our first issue was published in December of 1989. This was a fully-refereed journal with both a state board and a national board of referees. Its regular publications were semi-annual, with occasional special editions. This journal was managed by an all-volunteer staff.

The following issues were published:

Tennessee Storytelling Journal. Volume 1, Number 1, December 1989. Special emphasis: Original stories.

Tennessee Storytelling Journal. Volume 1, Number 2, June 1990. Special emphases: Original stories and Tandem stories.

Tennessee Storytelling Journal. Special 1990 Halloween Edition. Special emphasis: Appalachian Ghostlore.

Tennessee Storytelling Journal. Volume 2, Number 1, December 1990. Special emphases: Story Ownership (Copyright), and Stories for Black History.

Tennessee Storytelling Journal. Volume 2, Number 2, June, 1991. Special emphases: Jack Tales and Grandfather Tales.

Tennessee Storytelling Journal. Volume 3, Number 1, December 1991. Special emphasis: Holiday Stories.

After the first issue reached the subscribers, we were contacted by the president of the IRA/SIG/ST (the Storytellers Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association), and soon we were sending the Tennessee Storytelling Journal as a benefit to all of their members (in addition to the TAPPS members).

Shortly after this new periodical was received by the storytellers in the IRA/SIG/ST, we began receiving manuscript proposals from all across America and in some foreign countries. We repeatedly heard, "This isn't a STATE journal . . . ." Soon, following the tremendous "positive pressure" of the readers of and potential authors for the above issues, the Tennessee Storytelling Journal changed its format, structure, objectives, and sponsor and became the international journal called Storytelling World. The first issue (Winter/Spring, 1992) featured articles and columns from people from across the United States and one writer from South Africa. The new sponsor was the ETSU's Master's Degree program in Storytelling, and the journal quickly enjoyed a great reputation both at home and abroad. It was still managed and produced by an all-volunteer, unpaid board. The following seventeen issues were subsequently published:

Storytelling World. Issue 1 (Winter/Spring, 1992). Special emphasis: Personal Tales, featuring Donald Davis and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 2 (Summer/Fall, 1992). Special emphasis: HiSTORYtelling, featuring Pat Mendoza and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 3 (Winter/Spring, 1993). Special emphasis: Twice-Told Tales, featuring David Novak and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 4 (Summer/Fall, 1993). Special emphasis: Tickling Tales, featuring Bill Harley and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 5 (Winter/Spring, 1994). Special emphasis: Stories for the Younger Folks, featuring Jackson Gillman and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 6 (Summer/Fall, 1994), Special emphasis: Multicultural Storytelling, featuring Jackie Torrence and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 7 (Winter/Spring, 1995). Special emphasis: Choices of Voices, featuring Roger Petersen and others. (Included a one-hour audiotape)

Storytelling World. Issue 8 (Summer/Fall, 1995), Special emphasis: Inspirational Stories, featuring Batt Burns (Ireland) and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 9 (Winter/Spring, 1996). Special emphasis: Storytelling in the Curriculum, featuring Kerry Mallan (Australia) and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 10 (Summer/Fall, 1996), Special emphasis: Storytelling Business, featuring Milbre Burch and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 11 (Winter/Spring, 1997). Special emphasis: Creating and Crafting Stories, featuring Jay O'Callahan and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 12 (Summer/Fall, 1997), Special emphasis: The Storytelling Audience, featuring Ed Stivender and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 13 (Winter/Spring, 1998). Special emphasis: "High-Tech" Storytelling, featuring David Holt and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 14 (Summer/Fall, 1998), Special emphasis: Can Stories Heal?, featuring Erica Meade and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 15 (Winter/Spring, 1999). Special emphasis: Storytelling Ethics, featuring Susan Klein and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 16 (Summer/Fall, 1999), Special emphasis: Telling SCARY Stories, featuring Kathryn Windham and others.

Storytelling World. Issue 17 (Winter/Spring, 2000). Special emphasis: Stories for Special Occasions, featuring Donald Davis and others.

The journal sponsorship of East Tennessee State University led to the early offering of course credit (through the Master's Degree Program in Storytelling) for serving as a temporary board member for this journal. Graduate enrollees could sign up for a one-semester internship and contribute to the evaluations of incoming manuscripts and to the editing, producing, processing, and mailing of these issues. This experience became a real "eye-opener" for the behind-the-scenes experiences in the management, editorship, and production of a refereed periodical.

In spite of this magnificent staff, the journal "outgrew" the help offered by all of the volunteers and enrollees combined. In 1998 I approached the interim director of the newly formed NSN (National Storytelling Network) for discussions of a possible joint effort with the NSN publication (Storytelling Magazine-an outgrowth of the previous National Storytelling Journal). After many months of negotiations, a carefully designed contract was signed by all parties. This essentially provided for a "merger" of the two publications.

Storytelling Magazine has guest editors for each of its five annual issues. After the merger, Storytelling World became "guest editor" for several of these issues and remains the guest editor for each April/May issue.

This magazine is now offered as a membership benefit for the National Storytelling Network. For information, inquire through the website: Questions specific to Storytelling World only may be answered through this website or by e-mailing the editor at 

We welcome any comments or suggestions regarding this adventure.