The following syntax returns records no problem. The problem is that the comment counts story comments that haven't been approved so the count is off. In the notes table there is a field called note_status_id the value 2 means it hasn't been approved. So trying to figure out with the syntax to include the notes count that only have been approved.
select IFNULL(COUNT(notes.fk_story_id), 0) as commentcnt,
storys.story_id as storyid, storys.story, story_users.first_name,
story_users.last_name, storys.title from storys
inner join story_users on storys.fk_user_id =
story_users.user_id left join notes on
storys.story_id = notes.fk_story_id
where fk_status_id = 2 group by storys.story_id order by storyid desc