The first Cora Story: Maria's Magical Dancing Shoes

by Ryan Johnson January 07, 2017

Today is a special day. Today's the day I sent my first children's audio story out into the world. It's called Maria's Magical Dancing Shoes.

It's a short, fun tale about a girl who loves to dance but, alas, isn't all that good at it. When she receives a magical pair of bright green dancing shoes, then...

Well, you'll have to listen to the story to find out what happens. You can find it here, free to download and share: Download Maria's Magical Dancing Shoes today

I can still remember watching my daughter listen to it for the first time. She stood in the living room, quietly excited to hear what comes next. When it was over, she asked to listen again. I hope your family enjoys it just as much!

The story behind the story

It's fitting that my first story is about the value and pleasure of practice -- and the dangers of taking shortcuts. The story behind Cora Stories is a long one. And as much as I wished for shortcuts, I haven't taken any yet.

When I first lit on the idea of sharing audio stories for kids, I was ecstatic. I'm a lifelong storyteller and seasoned marketer. What a perfect combination of skills and passions!

Little did I know how many days and weeks (and months!) I would spend diving into audio engineering, voice acting, digital painting, graphic design and e-commerce platforms.

That's me doing voice exercises while commuting for 60 minutes to my voice coach (la la la la la, ba ba ba ba ba).

That's me listening to audiobooks and stopping them regularly to repeat great phrasing ("Enough of that, Mr. Beaver").

That's me building a makeshift recording studio in my closet with an unused shelf and lots of blankets.

That's me practicing doodles of treasure chests and chickens and cars on my phone in taxi rides. 

I could go on and on.

Ignorance can be a form of grace, I guess.

Many people recommended I outsource many of these behind-the-scenes tasks so I could stay focused on the storytelling, the piece that I do best and love the most. It's good advice. The same advice I would give someone else.

But I knew I wanted my Cora Stories to be as "hand-made" and "home-made" as possible. Regardless of how successful Cora Stories becomes, at its heart, each story is still a gift to a child. That means a lot to me. I knew that even if the audio or art wasn't perfect, they would at least be genuine.

So I kept at it, working with voice coaches and teaching myself GarageBand and Photoshop and stumbling through Shopify. That sowing is finally done. And now, with all the technical pieces in place, working however clunky, I can start to harvest the garden of stories I've been tending for years. 

I hope you enjoy Maria's Magical Dancing Shoes. Feel free to share it with any familes and children who might enjoy it. This is for them.

Thanks for listening!

Ryan Johnson
Ryan Johnson


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