October 8, 2014
First I want to thank everyone who commented on my last Publishers Note, HeroicStories needs your help, and a word about “but…”.
The good news is that the subscriber count has grown … slightly. Which means that we’re getting just enough people to offset normal attrition, and then a few more. A very few more. So keep on sharing and telling your friends about HeroicStories – it really does help.
The kinda disappointing news is that the trend of comments to immediately focus on the negative, or try to poke holes in each story continues. I’m not removing them, as long as they’re not offensive, of course, but that people would immediately feel the need to find something wrong in a story about something right does disappoint me. I do try to respond to most, but I also don’t want to become a broken record about it.
One of the biggest themes in the feedback to that last email was the lack of new stories. To be honest, this really surprised me since I tried to go out of my way to let you all know when you subscribed that we’d be running repeats from the archive of over 800 stories for “a while”, while we figured out the mechanics behind HeroicStories, and what kind of things would and would not work. We’re still fine-tuning the process even now.
However, I hear ya. And I’m happy to announce that new story submissions are once again open. You’ll find the guidelines and process here: Story Submission Guidelines. I can’t say when we’ll see the first new story published, since it all depends on the quality and quantity of submissions, as well as fine tuning the new editorial process. I’ll keep you updated.
And to be even more vague, my editor made a suggestion for something that I think will absolutely floor you. I know it did me. The problem is it won’t be cheap, but it stands a chance of being something that will really help set HeroicStories apart. I’ll have more on that in future publishers notes.
Oh, and I’m still mulling over the “co-conspirator” tag line. Stay tuned.
On to the last few weeks stories:
This story of a mall Santa knowing exactly how to interact in a wonderfully affirming way with a developmentally disabled individual draw several comments.
In perhaps the best example of word choice mattering, the first comment, which elicited several responses, was about the use of what we now refer to as “the R-word”. First I apologize to those who took offense. I’ve been electing to run these previously-published stories exactly as they were published the first time around. Thus I elected to make no changes to this one, first run in 2003.
However what I’m really the most sorry for is that a single word distracted some from the story.
Commentor Michael Herrick perhaps put it best: “… an amazing individual, already giving of himself to be Santa, was so perceptive and made the holiday season for another human being by giving a truly priceless Christmas gift. Incidentally, I don’t believe that the writer, who worked with and had obvious affection for this man, meant any disrespect by the wording used in the story.”
This story reminds of of the unexpected importance of our daily interactions with those around us as the author comes to find out the positive impact simple casual conversation each day on the elevator has had on a departing co-worker.
Jean says: “Thanks for the great reminder to be pleasant to those we encounter. We never know what their day or life is like and sometimes a smile and hello help to make their day.”
Rosemary Watson agrees: “I agree that it is important to speak kindly to stranger we may meet in an elevator or at a restaurant. Many people don’t have a close friend, and they just need your smile and cheery greetings. Be friendly to people working hard in the buildings around you. It doesn’t cost you anything to ask if they are having a good day. Show you care.”
I think Michele Budd sums it all up nicely: “WOW! This is a reminder of how small a thing sometimes to us, can be a huge thing to someone else. I need to remember that the rude person we sometimes get on the other end of the phone may be having a bad day, just like we all do. Kindness even in the face of rudeness can go a long way to changing someone else’s outlook and maybe their day. Caring and Kindness. Gotta remember to keep that in the forefront of my brain when in dealing with stressful situations like the irritated drivers on the interstate, and overworked and underpaid cashiers. Awesome story! Thank you!”
After a domestic violence call the responding officers use a ladder truck to “break in” to the apartment of the victims while they were at the hospital … to make sure they can have Christmas.
Alice Perrault shares: “Firefighters and police officers are heroes doing their job every single day. They are also very giving and charitable when asked to participate in a cause. God Bless them, one and all.!”
Laura adds: “I remember this story from the first time it was published, and repeat it often. It is a wonderful, heartwarming story of how small things can make a big difference in people’s lives. And I don’t believe the payoff was only for the family. I’m sure those firefighters and policemen had a wonderful Christmas Day too thanks to the good deed they did.” I’m sure they did too.
HeroicStories founder Randy adds: “I love this story. I just wonder if you should have held it until December!” (I’d considered doing so, but in the race to get HeroicStories up and running responding to story requests took priority over specific timing. 🙂 ).
Almost home from a trip to the movies, a father turns his car around when the author discovers that the change they’re received was fifty cents too much. In so doing they potentially save the cashier’s job.
Mary comments: “That could have been my Dad and I so much appreciate him and my Mom both for their unfailing integrity and for their kindness to others. I’ve seen so many examples of this kind and I’m thankful to have had this kind of example before me as I grew up. Thanks so much for sharing!”
Elaine says: “What a wonderful example of teaching your children the right thing. I’m sure there are still things of this sort going on today, but we surely don’t hear much about the good things. Thank you for all the heroic stories that show up in my inbox.” Thank you Elaine. This is exactly why HeroicStories exists (again) today.
Carolyn adds: “It doesn’t matter whether the store takes the overage or not. What matters is whether you are honest enough to return it. The lesson is found in your actions not those of others. Keeping your integrity intact is the most important thing, you know you were honest and you can keep your head high because of it.”
An observed silent interaction; while crossing an intersection a man gives his gloves to someone more in need heading the other way.
Interestingly both the giver and recipient were the subject of complimentary comments.
Barb says: “Beautiful. And yes, graciousness in receiving is something that most of us have a hard time with.”
Clara Wersterfer adds: “What a beautiful gesture. Most folks would not have even noticed the bare hands. The lawyer made his decision very quickly. Nice man.”
A famous star steps up to help entertain some rambunctious children on an airplane. The star? Dolly Parton.
Naturally many positive words were shared about Ms. Parton.
John Burns comments: “Dolly (It costs alot of money to look this cheap!) Parton is a treasure, I’ve never met her, but am sure I would thoroughly enjoy the experience. I remember when this story first ran, glad to see it again. Chances are Dolly had as good a time as those kids did on that flight, she’s that kind of person.”
Terry adds: “This just goes to show that, so many times, celebrities are real people just like the rest of us.” So many times? Probably most times. 🙂
betty frank shares: “I can almost see Dolly…….smiling, kind, loving those children. What a lady. We need more and more people like her, that really CARE. Thanks for the inspiration. Whenever I have stepped out of my comfort zone, and done something that needed done, I have never regretted it. However, when I havent listened to that small voice, inside, I have ALWAYS regretted it. So, we should all heed those little voices, that keep whispering ‘do it. Help'”
An anonymous shopper picks up the tab for a prescription when the author’s money is misplaced; a shopper that the pharmacist knew to be suffering from cancer herself.
danielle Gamache says: “wow; what can I say but this woman surely did not feel sorry for herself even though she had cancer. I do know that when we give out of our trials; we feel more blessed. As I believe and as my mother really lived this motto; it is much better to give than to receive. I am bless to be able to read these stories. Thanks”
Jeanne H. comments: “This story reminded me that fear does not have to take our humanity away from us. The brave lady with cancer was able to overcome the horrible fear she was living with and respond to another’s fearful circumstances with compassion and generosity.”
Del adds: “Don’t know or care what this says about me, and won’t spend much time trying to figure it out, but, the more of these stories I read, the more I wish some day someone could write a story like this about me. Very inspiring.” I think it says something very good! If you feel inspired, then I feel like HeroicStories is doing its job. (And I’m thinking that whether a story is written about it or not, you’ll live your own heroic story indeed.)
Someone did suggest that these summary of comments be part of each issue – much like the previous incarnation of HeroicStories.
I realize the value of sharing these highlighted comments with you. That it’s been several weeks since my last summary is unfortunate. The issue is, for now, partly technical and partly personal.
The technical is that the stories are stored and pre-scheduled for publication, so that each email is almost completely automated. In fact it could be completely automated if I trusted my systems just a little more. Adding comments to every issue would break that automation as they’d need to be manually curated and collected each time.
And that’s where the personal time management issue comes in: right now my involvement each time a newsletter is sent is minimal. I send a test issue to myself, and then assuming it’s OK push the big “send it now!” button so that you get it. It’s easier (and hence more likely to happen) to dedicate a block of time to collect comments in separate periodic “from the publisher” messages like this one every few weeks. I’ll try to make it not quite as long next time.
As I said … it’s all part of tweaking the system and working through any issues that come up.
Until next time,