Sunny Days, Story Craze - Fiction Writing
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June 2015 Newsletter

Sunny Days, Story Craze

Fiction Writing
Dear Subscribers,

The sun is shining, and summer is thriving! Are you ready to write? C.S. Lewis once expressed, “What you want is practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what we write (at least this is my view) at our age, so long as we write continually as well as we can. I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire next minute, I am so much further on.” Summer is the perfect time to write all the stories that have been floating around in your mind throughout the busy school year. It does not matter what you write—just write as well as you can!

If you desire to dig deeper into the craft of fiction writing, IEW® offers a variety of story-writing resources. Aside from the Student Writing Intensive, several authors, including children’s author Lee Roddy have written courses to assist the developing story writer.

How to Write a Story

Learn from a master storyteller how to craft effective plots, create realistic scenes, develop authentic characters, and much more!

A Guide to Writing Your Novel

Aspiring writers will learn from best-selling author Lee Roddy how to craft a novel from start to finish.

Story Quest

Inspire your students to write creative and enjoyable stories. Start a summer story club, or integrate story-writing into your regular curriculum.

For a review of how to construct a basic story, visit Unit 3 of Teaching Writing: Structure and Style.

Congratulations to our student writers who are published in this newsletter:
  • Audrey Butler
  • Caitlin Gearhart
  • Jonathan Gearhart
  • Jordan Reddy
  • Meagan Shelley

The writer’s deadline for our next newsletter, which will feature journalism, has been extended until June 30. If your student is interested in writing a journalistic piece but is experiencing “brain freeze,” give one of these writing assignment from Journalism Basics a try:

My Oldest Living Relative
  1. Interview your oldest living relative, and write a feature story about that person’s life.
  2. Your story should be between 350 and 1500 words.
  3. Remember to include both summary and direct quotes from your source.

How-To Story
A how-to piece is a feature story that gives simple, step-by-step instructions on just about anything, from changing the oil in a car, to making homemade soaps.
  1. Decide your topic (for example, how to make the best-ever chocolate chip cookies).
  2. Interview an expert. (Maybe Grandma is the cooking expert in your family.)
  3. Weave together the interview with the directions on how to make the cookies. It is always good to include quotes from the expert and stories. For example, was Grandma always an expert cookie-maker, or is there a funny story about how she tried and failed? What improvements has she made since this failed attempt?
  4. Your story should be between 350 and 1500 words.

Remember, the journalism submission deadline is just around the corner, so get started, and submit your work today! Visit our website for writer’s guidelines.

As always, happy writing!

Megan L. House
Magnum Opus Magazine Managing Editor
800.856.5815 x5101
Lewis, C. S., and Wayne Martindale. The Quotable Lewis. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1989. 622. Print.
The Girl Who Obeyed Her Mom
by Caitlin Gearhart, age 9
One day there was a young girl whose name was Mary. She was beautiful, with golden hair reaching down over her tiny shoulders, and a lovely face that brightened with sunlight. Because she was bored at home, her imagination sparked with excitement. She skipped over to her mom and excitedly exclaimed, “May I go out to the fields?” Her mom replied, “Sure you may go out to play, but beware of the vicious lions as they roam over the fields.”

She sprinted on the narrow path through the woods with her red basket. Her hair delightfully blew in the wind as she got to the beautiful flowery field. With delight, she ventured through the fields picking up many beautiful flowers for her mom. Suddenly, she heard a noise, which reminded her of what her mom said, and she became very frightened. Because she believed her mom’s words Mary found shelter and hid in it. As the frightening sound started to fade away, she slowly crawled out of her hiding place to go home. The way towards home was quiet and peaceful, and Mary enjoyed the beautiful nature sounds.

When she got home, her mother hugged her dearly as Mary told her what happened. Because she had remembered her mother’s words, she was safe. Sadly, Mary noticed her basket was missing! Mary remembered where she forgot her red basket, which had her mom’s flowers in it. Following her mom’s advice, Mary waited for her dad to get home, so he could walk with her to find the basket she left behind. 
The Moon Who Cried Asteroid
by Jonathan Gearhart, age 10
Adapted from “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”

One day in space, the moon, which was orbiting around the Earth as he did every day, suddenly became bored and wished the other moons could play with him. Then he remembered what Earth advised, “Be careful because large space rocks will occasionally fall when we enter the asteroid belt.” 
The next morning, Moon had a very clever plan. He knew the moons wouldn’t come to him, so he was going to bring them. Awhile later when he was alone, he yelled, “Asteroids!” All the moons rushed to him. They said, “Are you all right?”

“Can you play with me?” Moon asked. When they noticed nothing had happened, all the moons sped back with anger. “What happened?” said Moon, who just glared at nothing. Because it worked, he decided to do it again. The next morning he yelled again, “Asteroid!” Quickly, all the moons came. Since the moons did not see anything new, they were very angry. They told Moon never to tell things that are not true, or no one will believe you, and they went back. A little while later, Moon saw little rocks which were falling. Soon they got bigger until he cried “Asteroids!!!” But the moons didn’t come. Pretty soon they noticed he was in trouble, but it was too late. Moon had already gotten hit badly.

Because Moon got hit badly, he hoped never to lie again. The frightened moon, who asked for Earth to comfort him, suddenly felt better, although he had a new big crater.
Run for Freedom
by Jordan Reddy, age 14
Twelve-year-old Millie had been a slave all her life; only now had she dared to make an escape. As she ran to the edge of the forest, Millie stopped and looked back. This farm was the only life she had ever known. What if the real world was worse? “Nothing could be worse than what I’ve been through here,” Millie told herself. With that thought in her mind, she pressed on into the heart of the forest.

Darkness enclosed Millie the farther she went. She stumbled along until the first light began to creep through the trees. “I need to find a hiding place; they will begin their search for me soon.” She had no idea how far she had come or even if it was in the right direction. Millie crawled into a hollow trunk hidden by a bush and pulled out a map and a piece of bread. Looking at the map, she saw that the first house in the Underground Railroad was close. However, she did not dare to travel during the daytime. Millie took a couple bites out of her bread but put it back in her pocket, knowing she still had a long way to go. Sleep overcame her, and Millie slept through the day. When she finally awoke, darkness again surrounded her. Millie climbed out of the trunk and quietly looked around. She could see no sign of anyone coming near to look for her. Millie continued the way she had been going the night before.

At one point she stopped and found the North Star in a small clearing. This gave Millie hope that she might make it to freedom. Just before dawn she spotted a small house up ahead. She began to make her way to it knowing this was her first stop in the Underground Railroad. Suddenly, she heard voices behind her. Millie turned around and saw her owner with his dogs. Then she heard a voice coming from the house: “Run! You can still make it! Run!” Millie bolted with all of her might to the safe house. She bounded up the porch steps, ran through the door, and collapsed on the ground. She heard the door close behind her. Millie turned to see her rescuer; she was surprised to see a girl about her own age.

The girl motioned for Millie to quietly follow her down a hallway. They turned a corner, and the girl suddenly stopped. She placed her hands on the wall and pushed firmly against it. The wall gave way and opened to a staircase leading downward. “Go down quickly,” the girl told Millie. “They’ll be here soon.” Millie rushed down the stairs as the girl closed the door behind her. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, Millie looked about her. It was a small room, yet it was all Millie needed for a night’s rest. Suddenly, she heard knocking upstairs and a voice bellowing “Open this door! I know you have her in there!”

“Can I help you, Sir?”
“You know what I want! Where is she?”

“She’s already left, Sir,” the girl lied. “Maybe if you left now, you could still catch her.”

“Stupid girl,” Millie heard a slap. “Hurry! She’s getting away!”

There was silence for what seemed like forever to Millie. Finally the door opened, and the girl came down the stairs. “My name is Anne, by the way. What’s yours?” she asked.

“My name is Millie,” Millie replied. “Do you run all this by yourself?”

“No, I would never be able to manage all this,” Anne answered with a slight smile. “My mother runs it all, but she has been with a sick friend since yesterday. Please, rest; you’ve had a hard couple of nights. You’ll rest here today, and I’ll get you on your way tonight.”

“Thank you, Anne,” Millie said, although a “thank you” could not express Millie’s appreciation. Millie awoke to Anne shaking her. Anne handed her a sack containing food and a small canteen of water. After quick directions to the next safe house and a warning about her master, Millie was on her way. She knew it was going to be hard. But Millie believed that danger was worth the run for freedom.
The Formica
by Meagan Shelley, age 17
“Go, my child, Godspeed!”

I ran–ran as I had never run before, the adrenaline in my body making it almost impossible to breathe. I concentrated on only my steps, making sure they hit their marks on the hot, smooth concrete. I did not look back. I could hear sounds behind me, strange sounds, distorted and twisted in my confused mind. Leaping the downed obstacles in my path, I eventually reached a gap in the asphalt, big enough for me to enter through. Salvation. I vaulted into it feet first, the sounds and smells of the world above me fading to nothing.

I must have fallen several hundred feet, for minutes, maybe hours, passed before I hit the earth beneath me. Was I hurt? I made a quick examination of myself despite the choking darkness I was surrounded in. I looked up and then quickly looked back down. There was nothing else to see here. Picking myself up from the dirt, I squared my thin shoulders, raised my head high, and walked on, down through that deep split in the earth.

I never saw my home again.

Before I proceed with my story, perhaps I should enlighten you with more details of my life. My home was situated upon a humble, grassy rise in a respectable neighborhood not too far off from the city of Surlode. It, if you are not familiar with the name, is a quiet, well-governed gold rush town near the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

I remember there were lots of columbines growing near my home. Such beautiful flowers.

My name is of no importance–I have long forgotten that. Growing up in a family of dozens can do that to a body. But I loved every minute of it, living by each and every one of my uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers. However, I was not necessarily close to any one of my relations. There were too many of them to know at one time. Still, I remember my mother well, though, strong and proud, the leader of this enormous crowd. She was beautiful, and we all knew and loved her well, even if we did not know each other. She called me her “little cootie,” being the youngest of all my siblings. I had forgotten how much I loved that name.

I remember the human boy next door as well. Such a little pest. He was always coming to the house uninvited, snickering, laughing, and stomping his feet. It’s a scary thing to see. I’ve seen boys bigger than he before, of course, but seeing one even of his size so close to our home made my knees knock. He never seemed like anything more than a simple hindrance in our fast-paced, busy lives until the day he brought The Stick. That was the day I had to run.

I realize now how very confusing this must be for you. How foolish I am, indeed! Mother always said I was a scatterbrained thinker. Forgive my indiscretion. I should have said before that I am a Parvus Formica, a little ant.
Midnight Feast
by Audrey Butler, age 16
Once there were two children, Jane and George, who lived with their father and mother in a little yellow house on a hill. Jane was nine, and George was seven. They were ordinary children except for their passion for “plots.” They made everything into a plot. They plotted to bring a stray cat inside without their mother finding out. Another time they plotted to have a store and sell things they found in their backyard such as pebbles, dogwood berries, and leaves. They even plotted to have their own radio station. But there was always a problem: Every plot they came up with was far too complicated to be carried out. However, there was one plot that seemed simple enough and which seemed to work well.

One day, Jane and George were swinging in the backyard. They had not thought up any plots for several weeks, and a new one was inevitably forthcoming. It was always Jane’s prerogative to come up with the goal and details, while George carried out the instructions that were allotted to him.

“George, I just thought of a great plot! And I’m sure it will work out,” Jane said. “Let’s have a midnight feast!”

“What is a midnight feast?” asked George. He did not know what a midnight feast was, but it sounded interesting, especially since food was sure to be involved. Food was one of George’s favorite things.

“A feast at night, of course,” Jane explained.

“Do you mean after dinner?” George asked. Jane was warming to her subject.

“Yes, of course after dinner. In the middle of the night!”

“Where do we get the food?” asked George. He always left the planning to Jane and never tried to usurp her unspoken superiority in the subject of plots. Suddenly, he stopped swinging.  “Are you thinking of raiding the pantry? That would be fun.”

“Oh, no! That would be stealing!” Jane exclaimed. “No, we have to smuggle it, like Polly Plummer smuggled root beer and apples in The Magician’s Nephew. We can take some food from our meals and hide it under our pillows. It will take a few weeks to collect enough food, I think. Once we have enough, we will have our feast one night after Mommy and Daddy tuck us into bed. It will be so much fun! But we have to get a lot of food, otherwise it won’t be a feast.”

“How will we get food from our meals? Will we ask Mommy?”

“No, we can’t tell Mommy and Daddy,” said Jane. “It has to be a secret midnight feast. It won’t do at all if it isn’t a secret. We have to slip food onto our laps when they aren’t looking. It will be easiest at lunch, but dinner food won’t be as easy to put into sandwich bags anyway.”

That afternoon, their mother gave them bread and butter, pretzels, apple slices, and cheese for their lunch. When their mother returned to the kitchen, Jane said, “Now is the time! Hurry, before she comes back!” She took three of her six pretzels and half of her bread and put them under the table. George took a fourth of his bread and one of his pretzels. Their mother came back into the room.

“What are you smiling about, you two?” she asked. “There is something up your sleeves.”

“Oh, nothing,” said George, looking at Jane for her approval. She always told him that he needed to “back her up” on their plots, so George took this opportunity to step in. Their mother smiled and said, “Very well, just don’t get into mischief. I’m going to go outside and sweep the deck. When you’re finished, don’t forget to clear your plates and put them in the sink. And it’s your turn to wipe the table, George.”

After their mother went out, Jane found some sandwich bags for their food. Then they finished their lunch and followed their mother’s instructions, cleaning up. When everything was done, they went to their bedroom.  They stashed their food underneath their pillows.

“Well, our plot is safely under way,” said Jane. “But you didn’t get enough food! It will take a year to collect enough food if you only take as much as you did today.”

“I was hungry,” replied George.

“It won’t hurt you to eat a little less in the next few days. Think of the feast!”

In the following two weeks, things continued pretty much the same. They successfully smuggled food every day and managed to elude their parents, but while Jane saved a good portion of her lunch, George was always hungry and did not save much food.

One day, their neighbor brought brioche over for lunch. Jane and George loved brioche. Brioche were big sweet buns filled with ham and melted cheese. They were a treat because the children did not have them very often. When they did, they savored every bite. Jane exercised great self-denial, saving three-fourths of her brioche. With great anticipation, she thought of the upcoming feast. George ate all of his brioche except for a few bites, and only saved that much because Jane nudged him. George was annoyed. He had been enjoying his brioche, and he wanted to finish it. Besides, the midnight feast was beginning to lose its attraction for him.  All the talk of a feast had excited him, but it was far too long in coming.

Finally, one day Jane decided it was time to take stock of the supply under their pillows.

“It doesn’t look like enough,” remarked George, looking at his meager hoard. “I thought we were going to have a feast. This is more like a snack.”

“Well, I have a lot more than you, but let’s wait one more week anyway.”

During the next week, George saved a little more than usual. On Friday Jane decided that there was enough at last.

“Let’s do it tomorrow night!” she said. George agreed.

Saturday morning they were very restless, thinking of their feast with delight. The day had actually come!

Saturday was their mother’s cleaning day, and since George and Jane were “bouncing off the walls” (as she said) she sent them outside. The children remained outside while she vacuumed and cleaned bathrooms and dusted as usual. They did not know that this Saturday was also her day to change sheets.

The day had never seemed so long. They were moping around the backyard looking for something to pass the time when they heard: “Jane! George! Come here quickly!”

They went inside and found their mother in their bedroom. They stood in the doorway, speechless. They were horrified to see her holding the midnight feast.

“What is this?” she asked slowly. Jane thought that they were really going to be “in for it” this time. She knew that her mother always spoke slowly when she was trying to keep her temper.

“It’s–it’s,” stammered Jane, but stopped.

George spoke up boldly, though he was scared too. “It’s our Midnight Feast, Mommy.”

Their mother’s lip twitched, and George thought she was trying to think of some terrible punishment. But she only said, “Where did you get this food?”

Jane breathed a little easier. At least they could try to explain things.

“We saved it from our meals,” she said. “We didn’t steal anything, Mommy, really we didn’t.”

“When were you going to eat these things?” asked their mother.

“We’ve been collecting everything for weeks,” said Jane, “and now we are finally going to have it tonight!” Then she asked the question that they both had been wanting to ask. She dreaded the answer.

“You’re not going to take it from us, are you?”

Their mother did not usually think well of the plots she discovered, and that was part of the reason they had been so careful to keep it a secret this time. They knew she would probably not approve of midnight feasts.

“Oh, no! You certainly may not eat this food. Come look at it!” Their mother showed them Jane’s brioche. There was greenish-white fuzz all over it. Then she showed them moldy cheese, brown apple slices, and crusty bread covered with sticky melted butter. Of everything, the cookies and crackers looked the best, but even those did not look very appealing. Jane’s face fell. She felt utterly crushed. Though not as disappointed as Jane (After all, he had less to lose.), George felt dismal too.

“As you can see, there is no possibility of you children eating this nasty food,” said their mother. “I am so thankful that I happened upon this today! If you would have eaten this moldy old food tonight, you would have become very sick.”

“But my brioche!” pleaded Jane. “I don’t mind so much about everything else, though that is hard too, but that brioche! I saved most of it when Mrs. Shaw brought it over, and I was looking forward to it! Please, may I at least eat that? It can’t be too bad, can it?”

“Heavens, no, Jane. It’s covered with mold. I’m sure you’ll get a brioche another time.”

Their mother went quickly out of the room taking the children’s precious midnight feast with her to dispose of properly. Jane was on the verge of tears. That they had escaped without punishment did not matter now; she only thought of all the self-denial and planning that had gone into the plot which she had thought up and carried out so wholeheartedly. George was half mad at his sister for making him go along with her plot for nothing. He thought of all the meals he had skimped on to prepare for the feast, and he blamed her. But he was also slightly smug. He had hardly saved any of his brioche, and Jane did not know that even the few bites that he did save he had already enjoyed when she was not around to see.

Suddenly they heard the last sound they expected to hear. From the kitchen came the sound of their mother laughing. They looked at each other in amazement and went out to the kitchen.

“A Midnight Feast, children! What an idea!” said their mother, still laughing. “I’m sorry that all this food was wasted, but I suppose it taught you a good lesson.”

Then she smiled and gave them some rolls and brownies. “If you eat these tonight, you may have them for a Midnight Feast.”

Although rolls and brownies could not compare to a feast, they were content with the compromise. But they never saw the humor their mother had seen until years later.  Then they loved to tell the story and laugh about it.
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