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Pre-Conference Seminars (2015)

APH 20th Anniversary Conference · Cultivate & Thrive

Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza-Sacramento · Wednesday, October 21, 2015 ·  8:30 am – 4:00 pm

View your class list (for the primary presenter of a pre-conference seminar or workshop only).

Starting & Succeeding with Your Personal History Business    (Session #1)

Category: Business Practice Skills   Level: Basic

Image of Stephanie Kadel Taras

Starting a new personal history business? The APH conference will offer aspiring personal historians many opportunities to learn interviewing, editing, and production skills. But before you focus on craft, take this seminar on how to get established as a small business owner and build your business for success. We will discuss business planning, promotion, products, pricing, and operations tailored to the specifics of a personal history business. We'll talk frankly about how to make a living in this field, where to spend your precious time and resources, and how to make the most of what you already know. Using samples, stories, and group brainstorming, presenter Stephanie Kadel Taras will target the following topics to the needs of the attendees:

Stephanie Kadel Taras, Ph.D., wrote her initial personal history business plan in 2001 and is surprised to discover how relevant it still is to her work today. A former vice president of APH, Stephanie makes a full-time living as a writer through her company, TimePieces Personal Biographies, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She provides telephone coaching to personal history start-ups and has taught this well-reviewed seminar at previous APH conferences.    »


The Write Way to Professional Success   (Session #2)

Category: Editing/Writing   Level: General

Image of Dawn Thurston

This in-depth writing seminar, led by experienced teacher and author Dawn Thurston, will expand your vision of what a written personal history can be. Sure, some personal historians are content with transcribing an oral interview, doing some light organization and editing, and calling it done. That's fine . . . for some clients. But maybe you'd like to offer a higher level, more professional product. For example, what if you turned that interview transcript into an engaging story—one that brings your subjects and their experiences to life on the page and lets readers walk in their shoes? Sometimes a few learnable writing techniques can make all the difference between a narrative that feels like a thin overview of a life and one that resonates and inspires by capturing your subject's individuality and humanity.

This six-hour, interactive session will show you how to enliven the people, places, and historical setting of your story. We'll explore story structure, scene and dialogue construction, theme development, and tread the truth-telling minefield all writers encounter when they craft family stories. Short in-class writing assignments will help you learn by doing. Make this the year that you sharpen your writing skills, improve your written product, and seal your reputation as a go-to personal historian.

Dawn Thurston has taught life story writing at universities in California and Utah for the last eighteen years and has helped hundreds of students write and publish their stories. Her book Breathe Life into Your Life Story (Signature Books, 2007), now in its third printing, has been adopted for inmate writing classes at the Utah State Prison. In 2014, she published her family's five-generation history, The Parrett Migration: Their Story is America's Story. She has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in communications. She and her husband reside in Orange County, California    »


Video Storytelling: Creating a Story Out of Basic Media   (Session #3)

Category: Video   Level: Intermediate

Stories are all around us—in our daily lives, in news, in family history—but the especially good stories come from those who know how to tell them. This session will provide an overview of non-fiction video storytelling and offer tips for making personal histories appeal to a broad audience. Don't miss this opportunity to soak up the creative perspective of this engaging videographer.

First, we will examine what makes a compelling visual narrative by studying various approaches, ranging from short news profiles to a long documentary. We'll discuss how to find the visual and emotional focus of your story, as well as how to improve your interviewing skills. Next, we will draw back the curtain on the editing process and walk through the steps of piecing together a story once all the material is gathered: scenes, interviews, and archival materials.

This seminar will not offer hands-on training or tutorials for how to shoot and edit video. Our focus will be to examine the methods and craft behind simple, engaging video stories.

image of Cassandra Herrman Cassandra Herrmann is a video journalist and documentary filmmaker based in Oakland, California. Her films have broadcast on public and cable outlets including PBS, MSNBC and Al Jazeera, and screened at numerous film festivals, including SXSW and Sundance. She has told stories about immigration and exile in the US and in Tanzania, human rights in Zimbabwe and Sudan, and the intersection of music and politics in Senegal and Nigeria. She is currently directing the independent documentary FRAMED, about the Western fascination with "saving" Africa. An excerpt from the film was featured on the New York Times Op Doc series. Previously, she produced, directed and photographed TULIA, TEXAS, a documentary about a small town struggling with the aftermath of a controversial drug sting. The ITVS funded film broadcast nationally on the PBS series INDEPENDENT LENS and was nominated for a National Emmy Award. At the Center for Investigative Reporting, she was the video series producer for "Food for 9 Billion", a yearlong multi-platform media project with CIR, the PBS NewsHour and NPR's Marketplace. For the PBS series FRONTLINE/World, she produced and shot numerous documentaries, including a story about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, a 2006 National Emmy nominee. Cassandra has produced and reported in China, India, the Middle East, Latin and South America, and 17 countries in Africa. She has given guest lectures on her work at conferences, community screenings, and in classrooms. Her recent teaching experience includes a year-long thesis seminar in television and video storytelling at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where she received her masters in journalism. Previously, she taught production and reporting courses there for two year-long projects funded by the Ford Foundation and the Gates Foundation for students telling stories about public health, agriculture and women in Africa. For more information about Cassandra:  » and  »

Registration Starts on July 1

Enrollment is limited for each of the pre-conference seminars so be sure to register early. Fees shown are in addition to full-time conference registration fees. An additional $100 is added to the fee if you do not attend the conference (as reflected in the chart below). APH reserves the right to cancel the pre-conference seminar sessions, in which case registrants will receive a full refund.

Registration Note for Sessions #1 and #2: No more than thirty students and no fewer than ten will be accepted.

Registration Note for Session #3: No more than forty students and no fewer than twenty will be accepted. A $50 fee will be applied if a registrant cancels on or before July 31. We expect the class to fill quickly, and rates will rise August 1, so please sign up early. Cancellations received after July 31 will be subject to review to ensure class size does not fall below minimum.

Pre-Conference Seminar Registration Dates & Fees

Registration Period Session Fee for
Conference Registrant
Fee for
Pre-Conference Seminar Only
    Member Nonmember Member Nonmember
July 1 - 31
#1-Starting & Succeeding $185 $235 $285 $335
#2-The Write Way to Professional Success $185 $235 $285 $335
#3-Video Storytelling $260 $310 $360 $410
Aug 1 - Sept 30
#1-Starting & Succeeding $210 $260 $310 $360
#2-The Write Way to Professional Success $210 $260 $310 $360
#3-Video Storytelling $285 $335 $385 $435
Oct 1 - Oct 15
#1-Starting & Succeeding $235 $285 $335 $385
#2-The Write Way to Professional Success $235 $285 $335 $385
#3-Video Storytelling $310 $360 $410 $460
After Oct 15
#1-Starting & Succeeding $260 $310 $360 $410
#2-The Write Way to Professional Success $260 $310 $360 $410
#3-Video Storytelling $335 $385 $435 $485