Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2nd Edition May 15, 2012

Watch for June 1st issue. We'll be starting to post short stories  for your reading pleasure!!

What are your schools teaching your children?
By Mary Martinez
If you're reading Canyonland Press it's safe to say you're a reader. How old were you when received your first list of reading words? Or your first poem to memorize in school? I have seven grandchildren, so I am always interested in what they are learning in school. On a whole I haven't been disappointed.

My husband watches some of the younger children, two are in kindergarten, and after school he helps with their homework. And if the older kids are over for Papa and Nana night they do their homework under the watchful eye of Papa also. What I'm saying is we probably have more opportunity to monitor what our grandkids do than we did with our own children.

Reading is the foundation that all parents and grandparents need to make sure the children in the family are receiving. Make sure that every child has a good breakfast before school, or lunch if they go to kindergarten in the afternoon. It's a proven fact children who eat nutritiously and are well rested do better in school.

Why am I preaching to the choir, so to speak? Because something happened recently with a homework assignment. One of our five year old grandsons was doing his homework and with it was three poems that he was to memorize to recite with his class for their end of the year program. "We did it".  Here is one of them.

Some dummy built this pencil wrong—
The eraser’s down here where the point belongs.
And the point’s at the top—
So it’s no good to me
It’s amazing how stupid some people can be.

I thought at first I had read it incorrectly, then I read it again. I was appalled. In my home our children are not allowed to call each other dummy or stupid. Not only that one of his reading words was Hate. I may not have noticed the word if it hadn't been I was so upset over the poem. However, that is another word we do not use in our home.

I emailed the principal and the district, and they had a discussion with the teacher and the poem will not be recited and a new poem will be sent home for the children to learn. (No one messes with Nana's kids)

So please take part in your children and/or grand-children's assignments, monitor what they bring home. They are our future. Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear your views about this topic.

Books, Books, Books
“All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality –the story of escape.” -Arthur Christopher Benson-

How many books do you read a week, a month? I know readers that read two to three books a week, even more now that they can download onto an ereader. I’m envious of those people. I love to read, but as a writer it’s hard to find time to read as much as I would like. Have you ever wondered how long it takes an author to write the story?

Do you know some writers take weeks, months and even years to complete a story, and yet it only takes some readers a few hours to read the completed book? Amazing. Do you know what a writer has to go through to complete that wonderful story you just read in a few hours? Here’s an eye opener in a nutshell.

First thing is an idea. Writing the Rough Draft is usually started by typing the entire story out that’s spilling from the writer’s brain. Most writers typed without thinking about grammar, spelling, word count, or punctuation (I do). I’ll make notes along the way if any research is needed. But, the words continue to spill from my fingers, filling the blank pages. This is the fun part of writing. I don’t even worry about going off in a different direction – cutting comes later. Some writers will have more than one rough draft. Sometimes a rough draft can be 400 to 500 pages, plus.

Revision is next, which is looking at the entire story as a whole and that it flows well. This means there might be more additions, or rearranging sections, or even removing a section. Maybe there’ll be a need to replace paragraphs or delete them to make the story stronger. Even a scene may need to be cut (writers have been known to cry over this). Some writers revise several times before they feel the story flows smoothly and nothing is left out. Also, the end must come together that leaves no unanswered questions – I hate reading a book only to ask but…but what about??? – You know what I mean?

Now it’s time to Edit. Going line-by-line to make sure each sentence, phrase and word is the best for the story. This isn’t the fun, its hard work. The other thing is subject-verb agreement and punctuations. Oh dear, put in the comma, take out the comma! Who know? And, finally, spelling –correct spelling, but wrong word!! English isn’t easy.

Once the manuscript is finalized, then it’s time to find a publisher. That’s a whole different article that you as a reader might be interested, or not. Taking a manuscript from beginning to end is a long process which takes much longer than reading the book.

I appreciate all the hard work that an author puts into writing a story. I applaud all writers that complete a story that is placed in your hands, the reader. Without the writers, what would we read?

Learning to Love Tropes
by Sarah Baker

As a writer, I must admit that tropes are a lot of fun. Tropes often get a bad rap because they are thought of as clichés. But there's something that distinguishes the trope from the cliché. A trope is more like a tool in your writer bag of tricks. It's something--a character, a movement, or even an idea--that can help your readers understand just what the heck you're driving at. And for the audience, you already know this tool and how it works, and so you enjoy the ride.

Genre fiction relies heavily on tropes, but non-fiction can too. Television shows, movies, plays--just about any form of entertainment utilizes the trope at some point or another. For example, what about the loveable geek who ends up with the hot chick? How many teen movies have relied intensely--if not entirely--on this trope? Or the awkward young girl who becomes the most desirable creature on the planet once she loses her glasses and lets her hair down? I *know* that trope was the basis of most music videos for the duration of the 1980s.

You can have fun by subverting tropes, too. Let's take our example of the awkward-but-secretly-beautiful young woman in glasses. Remember the movie "The Breakfast Club?" Remember how Ally Sheedy's character, Allison, is made over by Molly Ringwald's Claire? She goes from a socially-awkward loser who eats a Pixie Stix and Cap'n Crunch sandwich to a breathtaking--but homogenized--high school sweetheart. John Hughes probably included this transformation because most teen movies demand this trope.

But what if Allison stayed who she was? And what if Claire were expected to change? What if Andrew Clark, played by Emilio Estevez, decided to love Allison without this makeover? A lot of people have devoted a lot of time to subverting this trope. There's an entire Facebook group devoted to just this one scene in the movie. What fun it is, sometimes, to change or even ignore the tropes that define a genre.

As a reader, I have some tropes that I frankly adore. One of my favorite writers is L.M. Montgomery, and her books are full of these tropes. My favorite? The wedding that went horribly wrong and is only redeemed after years of suffering on the part of the bride and the groom. Would you want to live through this? No. Does it make for great reading? Without a doubt.

So as a reader, I must know--what are your favorite tropes? Are there some that you purposely avoid?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

1st Edition, May 1, 2012

Madam Librarian Book Recommendation
Elizabeth /Librarian/Brigham City, Utah
The Berlin Boxing Club is a powerful story about Karl Stern’s journey through adolescence and self-discovery during a time when the social and political climate forced young people to hasten their journey to adulthood. Sharenow’s story engages readers quickly and readers will be eager to stay on Karl’s journey with him. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves a well-told tale, especially those who are interested in the history of the holocaust, World War II stories, art (including comics) and/or boxing history. A thoroughly enjoyable read! Although the Brooks' marriage is on the rocks, Peter and Anna attempt to survive in their country home with their family and Peter's lab assistant. No power, no food and the survival instinct of once friendly neighbors make it a life-or-death situation. The disease is spreading and winter's storms make survival unlikely. Especially when the illness hits home. I hope your readers will be drawn to this book. As I was preparing my blurb I found a review that didn't like the book. There were also good reviews. So. I stand by this book. I enjoyed it and found it very timely.
Author Spotlight--Robert Sharenow
Canyonland Press was unable to reach Mr. Sharenow for comment about his book recommendation. We've taken the liberty to add his bio and picture from his public web site. Robert Sharenow is an award-winning writer and television producer. His first novel, My Mother the Cheerleader, was chosen as a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age, and a VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers. The book is currently being developed into a feature film by Julia Roberts’ production company, Red Om. His second novel, The Berlin Boxing Club, will be published by Harper Teen in 2011.

He currently serves as Senior Vice President of Non-fiction and Alternative Programming for A&E Network and Bio Channel. He is responsible for supervising the development and creation of all of A&E’s non-fiction programming including the network’s signature real-life series, justice franchises, critically-acclaimed documentary series, A&E IndieFilms, and lifestyle programming. He also oversees original program development for the Bio Channel.

He has developed and/or served as executive producer on several critically acclaimed and hit real life series, including Intervention, Storage Wars, Hoarders, Beyond Scared Straight, Steven Seagal: Lawman, Heavy, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Criss Angel Mindfreak, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, The First 48, Manhunters, and Growing Up Gotti. For the Bio Channel, he is responsible for developing Shatner’s Raw Nerve, I Survived, and Celebrity Ghost Stories. Under his leadership, A&E IndieFilms has produced and released several theatrical documentary features including award-winners, The September Issue, American Teen, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, and The Tillman Story.

Prior to A&E, Sharenow served as Executive Producer of The History Channel’s award-winning weekly series, This Week in History. While at The History Channel, he also co-created and launched the series, Extreme History with Roger Daltrey. In addition, he served as Senior Producer of a special commemorating the anniversary of 9/11, Relics From the Rubble. His other television writing credits include Michael Moore’s Emmy-award-winning TV Nation and the Emmy-award-winning children’s series Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego.

He is a graduate of Brandeis University. He received his Master’s degree from New York University where he held a fellowship in the American Studies department. He lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and their dog, Lucy.

by Amy Durham
Readers are an interesting subset of the population. Sometimes a reader is a typical intellectual looking individual with glasses and a briefcase or tote bag full of books. Sometimes a reader is the big burly guy who rides a motorcycle and wears leather chaps. My point is this: Nowadays, so many people read so many different types of books that it’s difficult to tell by looking who’s a reader and who’s not.

However, I think many times the reader “stereotype” remains. And really, that’s not such a bad thing! As an avid reader, I don’t mind being thought of as a dreamer, an oddball, an introvert who’d rather read than interact, or an eccentric for my deep love of fictional characters. It’s part of the personality of a reader, and I take such labels as compliments!

As I thought about what it means to be a reader, how one might go about defining a reader, many ideas popped into my head. Some are dead-on true, and other are, well, humorous traits of voracious readers. Either way, if you love to read, you’ll likely find something on this list that describes you!

15.  While waiting to be seated at a restaurant, you pull out a book or an e-reader and start reading.
14.  You actually think seriously about getting up early on your day off because of all the reading you could get done.
13.  If you’re “to be read pile” gets below 10 books you start to panic.
12.  When you leave the house, you make sure you have your keys, wallet, and a copy of your current read or your e-Reader.
11. You consider naming your children after your favorite characters from a book.
10. Your bookstore’s phone number is on the speed dial of your cell phone.
9. You have Amazon.com and/or BN.com bookmarked on your computer.
8. You decide to learn about scuba-diving, antique sales, Navy SEALS, or any other random subject matter because you read a book with characters who did those things.
7. Before going to sleep at night, you say (either to yourself or your spouse), “Let me just finish this chapter.”
6. You feel compelled to try a new recipe because in the book you just finished, the characters enjoyed a food that sounded particularly interesting.
5. You really hope the fire marshal doesn’t make a surprise visit to your house, because the number of books you own constitute a fire hazard.
4. You’ve been known to put off cooking dinner, doing laundry or returning phone calls because you’re so caught up in the book you’re reading.
3. Some of your best friends are fictional characters.
2. Weeping, laughing out loud, and/or grinning like an idiot over words on a page are a regular occurrence for you.
1. Your life has been infinitely enriched by the books you’ve read, the lessons they’ve taught you, and the imagination and dreams they’ve inspired!

by Phyllis Campbell

When I first started reading over 17 years ago, I did not know the difference between an author who 'told' me a story, and an author who 'showed' me a story.  As I transitioned from a reader to a writer, I had this concept pounded in my brain...  WE MUST SHOW NOT TELL.  Yet as a reader, do you really know the difference?  Most don't know.  The ladies I work with hear all about my stories and the process of writing.  Many of them have told me they never realized the difference between 'telling' vs 'showing'...until I pointed it out to them.  Once I explained it, they went back to those memorable books they couldn't stop thinking about and realized it was because the author 'showed' the reader what was going on in the story instead of 'telling'.

One way of writing isn't necessarily better than the other.  It will all depend on what genre you like to read and what your tastes are.  Children's books, of course, is written in telling form. "Once upon a time Snow White lived..."  Author is telling you about Snow White and what happened to her.  When I first read Harry Potter, I didn't know it was more of a 'telling' kind of story until recently when I picked it up and skimmed through it.  Mystery and suspense stories are more like 'showing'.  Especially thrillers.  How else is the author going to scare the bejeezies out of you?  Or even keep you wanting to turn the page to see what happens next?

For those of you who don't understand what I'm talking about, let me give you some examples.
Telling - He was angry for the way she talked to him.
Showing - Anger poured through him like molten lava, hot and thick.  She had no reason to speak to him in such a way.

Telling When Nick looked at her, she felt flushed, and she shyly looked down at her hands.
Showing - Nick's gaze swept over her in a leisurely exploration.  Heat rushed to her face as her heart pounded out of control.  Embarrassed over experiencing such a strange, stirring emotion, she lowered her eyes to study her hands.

Now tell me...which one of these sentences do you like reading better?  For me...it would be the "showing" sentences because I MUST feel like I'm inside the character's whole body when I'm reading so I know their thoughts, feelings, and pain.

Don't forget to read the book recommendations on the side bar so you can vote in the Canyonland Press Readers Choice Awards.