A Game of Tropes

A Game of Tropes

A literary trope is a figurative or symbolic metaphor in its most complicated sense. In its more homogenized definition, a trope is a technique or stereotype that uses commonly established archetypes to help convey meaning.  In all stories, we know that the Hero is special. He’s the Chosen One, who will affect change in his world; this one of the most common tropes in genre fiction. Another example would be the “evil galactic empire” reminiscent of Nazis, Romans, Fascists. They sport gray uniforms, and appear in Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Chronicles of Riddick, and a dozen others. In these pieces the “good guys” are always diverse and colorful—this is a metaphor or trope for an idealized way of life slathered in diversity and personal freedoms. Consider: In Star Wars rebel pilots wear bright orange—their enemy counterparts look like SS soldiers. In Lord of the Rings, the heroes armies gather with brightly colored banners of silver and gold, blue and green. The orcs mass under a variants of a black flag. An interesting use of this trope is Robert Heinlein’s StarShip Troopers. The narrator is, in fact, one of those gray-uniform wearing space-nazis. Though we are sympathetic to this character, there can be no doubt that he is from a less than democratic society—this causes a gut reaction in most Americans. Everyone around me is gearing up for the next season of Game of Thrones. While watching/reading, I see elements from many other very successful authors in variety of genres. One cannot help but wonder is George R. R. Martin a singular fantasy genius or simply a well read nerd? Neither is really a bad thing, but I want to point some of the methods he’s using to bring standard fantasy tropes to life in new ways. I may go so far as to say that nothing in the Game of Thrones series is new or the sole creation of George’s imagination. That’s okay. I once had a writing professor offer the quotation, “Young writers invent, published writers steal.” He was not of course encouraging plagiarism, nor am I suggesting George R.R. Martin is guilty of this most heinous of crimes. I am saying the George R.R. Martin has brilliantly woven in commonly loved cultural elements from a myriad of fiction sources, made them his own and taken us on a great ride. First let’s address some of the standard tropes within the genre of fantasy literature. The one that always gets my goat is the chosen one. How many Chosen One’s can there be? It is important that we understand the necessity of this element, but also that it is as old as the concept of the story...

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Young Adult Fiction Coming Soon: Heron’s Path

Young Adult Fiction Coming Soon: Heron’s Path

Who is Alethea Eason? Read on friends… Alethea Eason lives with her husband Bill in Cobb, California, a small town in the Mayacamas Mountains in northern California. She has worked as a reading specialist and classroom teacher at two Title 1 schools, does freelance editing of novels and memoirs, and draws and paints as much as she can. She spent a year and a half teaching at St. Margaret’s British School for Girls in Concon, Chile. Her middle grade humorous science fiction novel Hungry was published by HarperCollins (Eos) in 2007. Her stories and poetry have appeared in places as varied as the children’s publications Shoo-Fly Audio Magazine and New Moon Magazine and the literary journals Frontiers and Sweet Fancy Moses. Three of her stories have been anthologized in collections edited by Bruce Coville, including A Glory of Unicorns. She was the winner of the SRA/McGraw Hill Imagine it! Teachers’ Writing Contest, in which her story “Turtle Soup” was made into a picture book to supplement the reading program’s second grade curriculum, and the Eugene Ruggles Poetry Prize given by Copperfield Books for their publication The Dickens. Meetings of the Minds Publications published her poetry chapbook Threshold, nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Read a short sample of Heron’s Path right here. To learn more about Alethea visit her website:  Heron’s Path Now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble! Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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Heron’s Path by Alethea Eason: (sample)

Check out this sample from the upcoming young adult fantasy novel Heron’s Path by Alethea Eason: — — — On a hot day in September I found Celeste’s clothes scattered all over the barn, one shoe upside down next to Papa’s forge and the other inside a milking pail. Her yellow dress hung from a ladder like a bird suspended in midair. I pulled the dress down by its hem and three tiny blue feathers, nearly the same shade as my sister’s eyes, drifted down to the dusty floor. I caught one of them in my hand; I stood there puzzling over what might have happened that morning to make her run off again. I felt alone, as though a wind had come up and peeled Celeste from the earth. I told myself that she was playing the same old game she’d scared us with so many other times, but this loneliness—so odd and new—followed me like a ghost as I ran outside and shouted for Papa. I was afraid he wouldn’t come; I’d find our cabin gone, and I’d be without any family at all. Papa searched the woods. I took our dog, Rufus, and ran up and down the river bank. When I found no trace of her I followed Papa into the trees where there were more shadows than seemed right. I didn’t dare go in very far and kept circling the places Celeste and I knew well. I heard Olena’s voice in my head telling me stories. Her words dripping slowly the way honey falls from a spoon. Her stories always made me uneasy. She believed in ghosts, the last traces of the Old Ones, who were a part of the breath and spirit of the rocks and trees, of the river Talum, and the surrounding woods. But the wei-ni-la, the darker ones, were the shadows to really fear. They were ancient too, and lived in the empty spaces of the woods, filling them with whispering. All afternoon Celeste’s name echoed through the trees as Papa and I called for her. Finally, his shouting changed and Rufus started to bark furiously. I was so tired my legs were shaking. I was running on legs that wouldn’t work. When I finally found them, Papa was half way up a steep gully with Celeste draped over his shoulder. Her hair, a skein of golden thread unraveling almost to the ground, was the only thing that covered her. I thought she looked newly born or newly dead. “Is she all right?” I asked. My lips were dry and hurt when I spoke, and my words felt like spittle as they came out of my mouth. All Papa could...

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But wait, there’s more!

I have fantastic news for those of you dreading a return to the doldrums of every day life as this holiday season comes to a close. The twelfth day of Christmas isn’t until January 6th. That is when a very special (and in some countries, a quite epic) celebration called El Dia de Los Reyes takes place. Known in English as Three Kings’ Day or The Feast of the Epiphany, this is a holiday steeped in traditions, stories, music, culture and presents. Did I mention presents? In honor of El Dia de Los Reyes, Spectacle is offering a very special bilingual children’s book called “La Caja Basia/ The Empty Box.” This book features hand-drawn illustrations by Freddy Sanchez with a Spanish storyline by Maria Goretti Sanchez, translated into English by me. A labor of love, come see what Manuel and Maria are up to this Dia de Los Reyes and join in the magic from my family to yours. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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Read Stuff: Huldredrom – Dream of the Hid-Folk

Huldredrom – Dream of the Hid-Folk by Christopher R. Knutson   Review by Eric Staggs   This unique piece of literature came to my attention through pure chance. Since I have found that the best pieces of literature often do arrive via unforeseen channels, I agreed to read and review it.   I’m glad I did. The style of writing at first seemed simple, unsophisticated, but as I progressed, I found I was drawn into the unfamiliarity of the culture, the complexity of Norwegian proper nouns seemed to help heft the weight of their folklore and a new found Christianity.   The story takes place in a picaresque rural village; imagine fens and glens and heathers, buffered on all sides by brooding mountains whose caps are white year round. These snow caps help to anthropomorphize the mountains, giving them an ancient and wise presence. Within these mountains and valleys lives the Hid-Folk. Fey and spritely, these trolls, changelings and their kin live out long and mischievous lives just under the nose of the villagers. The Hid-folk have a habit of stealing human babies and raising them as their own.  The author opens with a classic I-told-you-so moment and the tragic disappearance of a baby.   The plot is at once simple and convoluted – the rules that govern the interaction of mortals and hid-folk are complex and not always logical, but offer a vivid peek into one of Europe’s oldest mythologies. Hid-folk live a semi-parasitic life, stealing lovers and food and cows and whatever else strikes their fancy from mortal villagers, who in turn have developed a whole array of protections against such incursions.   At times almost comical, these cultural clashes between the Hid-Folk and the Villagers carry with them a deeper sub-text. The old ways are under siege by the new Christ-God whose representatives have banned the worship of the Old Norse Gods. Yet, for our characters, the reality remains: Hid-Folk could be any stranger you meet while tending the sheep and elemental spirits might easily burst forth and offer you knowledge or simply wish for company. The only evidence of the truth of Christianity is the agony the cross and tolling bells causes the Hid-Folk.   Vivid imagery and thorough understanding of the culture push this story forward at a comfortable pace. Descriptions of place and time help bring to the reader’s mind concrete imagery and paint each scene in fluid detail – allowing for just enough personalization to make each reader’s experience unique.   Not quite a love story and not quite a fairy-tale laden with moral and metaphor, Huldredrom: Dream of the Hid-Folk­ by Christopher R. Knutson is an entertaining read for all ages...

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Gifts For Writers Part IV

by Jared Saathoff When providing gifts for writers one of the key elements is playing to your writer’s sense of curiosity. Let’s face it, writers are worse than cats. Hours of useful time can be lost to something as simple as a squirrel or a website featuring only animated dancing robots. So, logically the best gift for a writer would be something to keep them on track and influence a more efficient manner of production— something like horse blinders or a dog’s shock collar. But, as I found out the hard way it violates several labor laws to force workers to wear those shock collars. So unfortunately I don’t think your beloved writer will enjoy it much either. Alas, the best way to appease your non-shock-collar-wearing writer is to get them something they’ll actually like. Truth is you can’t ever go wrong with Lego. But, you can go more awesome with this: — Awesome Link — it’s big, it’s motorized, it’s Star Wars, and it’s Lego. Guaranteed* to amaze and dazzle at cocktail parties. But, in this particular case you’ll have to do some digging to find something like it. Lego, because they’re awesome and Danish, release the majority of these beautiful sets in a limited run. So, there is this: — Awesome Link — but it’s not motorized, you’ll have you use your imagination.   Or. There’s this really neat book. It’s a collection of the old engravings that used to grace the pages of the dictionary. Back when the dictionary was really cool and not online: — Awesome Dictionary Link — I am going to set mine right next to the Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary, which is also a really interesting and neat gift idea for anyone interested in words, but be warned it weighs more than a toddler and unless you feel like rubbing your nose against the pages, it requires a magnifying glass.   Writers, even those without shock collars, write. So why not make writing awesome with this: — Awesome Pen Link — Quite possibly the greatest pen I have yet to write with (I ordered mine yesterday (actually I ordered three)). Guaranteed* to help you make new friends and influence people to buy you beer. The only thing that could, maybe, be more awesome would be a sword-in-cane that also had a pen—but that just doesn’t seem practical.   And finally, if your beloved writer is annoyed with boring people being the only ones that come over to watch movies there is this solution: — Magic Link — guaranteed* to keep boring people out of your life and make TV and movie watching 98% more enjoyable.   * Guaranteed by me. Guarantee not from the...

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