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?

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