Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Feature - Edit Story

PenWag now allows authors to modify existing stories. Now, this is a pretty essential feature for PenWag. Previously, authors had the ability to write new stories, but couldn't go back and make corrections. It's basic enough that I had mixed feelings about going public without it. Nevertheless, now it's there.

In order to change a story you've written, click on a story from "My Stories," then click "Edit." You'll be taken back to the Write tab, and you can change the title, the genre, and the contents of the story.


If you haven't registered yet, I encourage you to register today. It's very straightforward. Click on the "Register" button, and follow the process. Please let me know if the process is unclear. I already have a couple stories out there, and I'll be adding more as I remember them.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tell Your Story!

There's a web site that I'm building,, that lets me enjoy two of my favorite interests: software development and story telling.

It lets me enjoy software development
in that I'm using two technologies that I will gain experience with: the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) and Hibernate. The GWT is a great tool from Google that provides a framework for building AJAX-style applications. The framework includes the necessary pieces for client-side and server-side development, and manages the communication between the layers. Add in Hibernate and a data layer, and you have everything you need for easily building AJAX web sites.

Then there's the story-telling side.
When I was very little, we visited my great-uncle Henry Shoop, who was my father's mother's brother. He was born near Cherryville, Missouri, but his family moved to California when he was six. Uncle Henry was a friend, a beekeeper, and one of the great storytellers, and I hung on his every word as he instilled in me a love for a well-told story. He was one of the best.

Another favorite story-teller of mine was Earl Halbert, a family friend. You can see his picture here from National Geographic Magazine. He's the one on the left in the overalls. Earl was born in 1910 in rural Missouri, and lived through the Great Depression, Prohibition and numerous other hard times. He knew my great-grandfather Thomas Jefferson Branson, and had a few good stories to share about him as well.

Both of these men, shall we say, infected me with a love of a story told friend-to-friend, perhaps while sipping some sassafras tea, or around a campfire, or just hanging out in the living room. I miss both of them not just for their story-telling and their wit, but for their character as human beings.

Certainly the art of a well-told story has not been lost, but is changing over time. How many people nowadays have had the chance to hear stories of hard times in the Great Depression, friends lost, good times, and funny times, from "way back when"? I'd hate to lose those stories. So join me, won't you, and let's tell each other those stories, like we're sitting over a beer or around a campfire, and let's enjoy a good laugh together, savor tales of clever dealings with shysters, and the occasional twist ending.

Just head out to You're getting in early at a site that will someday, hopefully, have many stories that we have shared with each other. But it's your stories that will make the site great. If you have even one story to share, come on out and put it up there.

This site is in its early stages, but everything you need to add a story and read others' stories is already there. Since it's in its early stages, there's still a lot of work that I need to do add features. Some are pretty obvious - you can create a story, but can't edit the story to make corrections yet. I have a long list of features that I will add as the site grows. But the feature you want may not be on my list! So, click on the Contact Support link, or just send an email to, and give me a shout. Tell me what feature you want, and I'll add it to my list.

Let me reiterate - this site's success depends on people like you who have a story to tell. As you add your stories, others will visit the site just to read a great story. The stories are short. Don't feel like you have to write a novel. Just write it how you would share it with your friends over a beer.

Now, to get started, you have to register. For simplicity's sake, your email address is your user id, and you need to make up a password. Registration is quick and easy, and your email address will not be shared. If you still have questions or concerns, or if the site doesn't work right for you, use the Contact Support link and let me know!

Thanks, and hope to see you out there. Come tell your story!