Caroline Bock - BEFORE MY EYES
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Ten Very Basic Writing Tips for A Summer Friday
ON FRANZ KAFKA on his birthday
Do You Live in The U.S.? Great Britain? Australia? Canada? FREE GIVEAWAY!!
Unrequired YA Summer Reading...
Is the System Rigged? Can we give it A FIGHTING CHANCE?

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Caroline Bock - BEFORE MY EYES

Ten Very Basic Writing Tips for A Summer Friday

Ten very basic writing tips...for a summer Friday afternoon... 

1) Write on a regular schedule.

2) Finish a first draft of what you write.

3) Re-write.

4) Share it with someone who reads a lot.

5) Re-write and look at plot closely.

6) Re-write and look at characters closely.

7) Re-read entire work,try reading parts out loud. Cats are very good listeners.

8) Finish.Say it's done.It's good enough. So many really good writers I've met in workshops, in the MFA program, never trust in themselves to say a work is finished.

9) Send it out into the world— and this is a much larger discussion—— but letting it go is the important part, if you want to be a writer with readers (as opposed, I guess, to a diarist).    

10) Breathe. Take a breath. Read, a lot. Take notes on what you read. Is there a word you discover? Is there a name? (I'm becoming a big collector of names). Be generous to other writers. Write a review. Try a different form, for example, write flash fiction if you write novels. Don't wait too long to return to #1.

Do you have some basic writing tips to share?

Have a great weekend all! 

PS If you haven't read BEFORE MY EYES yet, look for it!!

ON FRANZ KAFKA on his birthday

Born on this date, July 3rd 1883,into a German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Franz Kafka is arguably one of the greatest German writers of the modern era. The hero of his most famous short story "The Metamorphosis"— Gregor Samsa— wakes up and is a bug, a dung beetle, trapped in his shell and in his bedroom by circumstances beyond him.

If a situation is “Kafkaesque“—— it’s  nightmarish—— there is a pervasive menace——sinister, impersonal forces at work, the feeling of loss of identity, the evocation of guilt and fear, and the sense of evil that permeates the twisted and often absurd logic of ruling power. In short, a sense of being trapped by unknown, irrational powers...that’s Kafkaesque. Sound familiar?

Kafka wrote to Max Brod, his friend and editor, in an undated letter:"I usually solve problems by letting them devour me."
I often feel that his writing devours its readers, drawing us into the mind of the grotesque, the twisted, and at the same time, offering us up the humanity of the characters. 

Overall, Kafka had a dark view of the world. Acclaimed writer and literary critic Vladimir Nabokov, wrote and lectured extensively about Kafka. He notes on THE METAMORPHOSIS: "Its clarity, its precise and formal intonation in such striking contrast to the nightmare matter of his tale. No poetical metaphors ornament his stark black-and-white story. The limpidity of his style stresses the dark richness of his fantasy. Contrast and unity, style and matter, manner and plot are most perfectly integrated." There's an amazing youtube video of Nabokov lecturing on Kafka:

Until his death in 1924 at age 40 of TB, Kafka wrote largely in obscurity, and left behind instructions to Brod to destroy his works. Thankfully, Brod didn't follow directions.

I have been obsessed for a while about Kafka and his stories. If you read BEFORE MY EYES you will find a key scene in which I pay trip to THE METAMORPHOSIS. If you are a writer or an artist, you must read A HUNGER ARTIST. If you believe in justice, or lack of it, read, THE TRIAL (links here to free copies in English).

So what are you reading for?

Do You Live in The U.S.? Great Britain? Australia? Canada? FREE GIVEAWAY!!

Unrequired YA Summer Reading...

FROM CHELSEY PHILPOT'S Boston Globe article, "Seasonal Reading for Young Adults"

"The best summer books blend elements of typical beach reads (romance, adventure, mystery, etc.) with reflective themes that explore friendship, loss, self-discovery, family, and more. The awesome plotlines of these titles will have readers tearing through pages, but the original and complex characters will leave them feeling that these tales, like the season itself, were over far too quickly.

The lives of three young people — Max, the unhappy son of a state senator, Claire, a poet who feels responsible for her sister ever since their mother had a stroke, and Barkley, a troubled 21-year-old who hears a voice in his head — become joyfully and tragically intertwined one Long Island Labor Day Weekend."  

Read the ENTIRE LIST of thought-provoking, complex, new young adult books at the Boston Globe website... and don't be embarrassed if you are an adult reading these young adult novels!! 


Is the System Rigged? Can we give it A FIGHTING CHANCE?

I found Senator Elizabeth Warren’s new memoir, A FIGHTING CHANCE, so truthful it hurt. It hurt to be told the truth: The system is rigged for those who are wealthy and well-connected, a truth that doesn’t surprise, that isn’t exactly new, but is told in an eye-opening, refreshing, and at points, damn inspiring way.
The Senator from Massachusetts tells a few stories of her life growing up scraping the bottom of the middle class barrel in Oklahoma before moving on to college with a scholarship and law school. She shares how she was drawn into bankruptcy law and eventually to Washington D.C. and the worse banking and housing crisis since the Great Depression. She talks in plain-speak about politics and being a newcomer to D.C. and having the idea to form the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and her great disappoint at not being appointed its first director because she was “too radioactive.”
She describes being a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and about meeting Americans across the country and asking the question: Who is the American government working for?
Ultimately, she answers, “People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: They’re right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOS—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs –still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.” She wants to celebrate success. But she, like so many of us, doesn’t want the game to be rigged.
I had the great opportunity to see the Senator speak in D.C. and I wanted to shout out at the end, “Run, Elizabeth, Run,”  and by that I mean for President. She would have my vote.
And if you haven’t read BEFORE MY EYES, my new young adult novel, isn’ it time for a serious young adult novel that PW and Kirkus Review calls, “gripping” about teens at the end of a long, hot summer, one hearing a voice and having a gun... Caroline


BEFORE MY EYES by Caroline BockMany people have asked me about a book club "Reading Guide" for BEFORE MY EYES, my new young adult for teens age 14 above--and adults of all ages (St. Martin's Press, 2014). BEFORE MY EYES is the kind of novel--about three fragile teens, mental illness, gun violence--that does delve deeply into complex characters and situations, provokes debate, and charges up opinions.I hope this is a helpful guide...

Towards the end of the novel, Claire’s mother, says: “We are all fragile,” in trying to come to terms with the gun violence her daughter has just witnessed. How are these characters “fragile?” Which one of the main characters: Claire or Max or Barkley do you empathize with the most? The least? And why?
There are several key secondary teen characters in the novel—Jackson, Samantha, Peter and Trish—how do these characters help shape the story? What insights do these characters give you about Claire or Max or Barkley?  
What does Claire’s relationship with her younger sister, Izzy, tell you about her character? Do you know someone like Claire, who is the primary caregiver for her siblings? How does this kind of responsibility impact a teen’s life?
Claire writes poetry about the major events in her life. What did you think of her poetry? Do you write poetry or songs? If Claire wasn’t a poet but a songwriter, what would be her song?  What would be Max’s song? Barkley’s?
Barkley, who is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, reaches out to Claire through a false persona on the internet. What does the interaction of Claire and Barkley tell us about each character? Have you ever questioned the identity of anyone you have met on line?  
All summer, Max Cooper obsesses about a soccer goal kick gone wide, which resulted in his team losing a big game. Have you ever tried to achieve something—
in sports, in life, which missed its mark?  How did it make you feel?
Max is also obsessing about a girl at the beach, Samantha. Ultimately, he realizes that Samantha is not for him, but only after he looks beyond her bikinis and flirtatiousness to Claire. What does this tell us about Max? About Claire? Have you ever had to look beyond the obvious in a person?
The novel is set at a Long Island, New York beach and many of the characters, including Max, Barkley, Peter, and Trish, work together at the Snack Shack. How does this setting shape their relationships? Have you ever worked at a summer job that you thought was the worse job ever?
If you were going to imagine a next chapter in the novel, where would Claire, Max and Barkley be in their lives?  In particular, what do you think happens on the day after the novel ends, the Wednesday, to each one of them?
Why do you think the author titled this novel, Before My Eyes? What is being seen and not seen? Are there things in your life that you let parents and/or friends see and things that you hide? How does Max secretly taking prescription drugs, or Claire talking to a stranger on the internet, or Barkley suffering from mental illness highlight this theme of seeing and not seeing? How or why is there a certain irony inherit in this title?
One of the main themes of the novel centers around the onset of mental illness, in particular, paranoid schizophrenia on the behalf of Barkley. What clues does the author give us that this character is suffering from this disease? Does it make you more or less sympathetic toward Barkley? Toward his parents?
In recent years there has been a number of violent incidents with young men and guns against their communities. In fact, some of the scenes in Before My Eyes are reflective of the 2011 tragedy in Tucson, Arizona where Representative Gabrielle Giffords and eighteen others were shot and six people killed by Jared Loughner, 22 years old,eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and given a life sentence for his crimes. Does reading Before My Eyes in light of those incidents, and other incidents of gun violence in American society, shape your point of view on guns in America?
Thank you for reading BEFORE MY EYES...Caroline

So cool... poetry on the Diane Rehm show...including my first poem!

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?That was the question radio host and interview extraordinaire Diane Rehm asked today on her WAMU/NPR radio show. I was at my desk, working, writing, and my third grade poem from Mrs. Murano's class, at George M. Davis Elementary School in New Rochelle, NY, popped into my head. As far as I remember, it is my first poem, and I wrote it at age eight. Impulsively, I tweeted it to her-- and she read it on the air! It's right near the top of the show. (click here for link) And here it is too:

In the woods
where there are
tall,towering trees
tiny,timid animals,
rigid, rustling leaves,
I stand there
just me.

I've gone on to write and publish more,including my new young adult novel,BEFORE MY EYES,(St.Martin's Press, 2014)which has one of the main characters, Claire, age 17, writing poetry, which is featured in the novel. 

Do you remember your first poem? 

Warning! More Thoughts On Having A Friend Who's An Author...

Warning! More thoughts on having a friend who’s an author…
-You will be asked to come to a reading. Wearing black is always appropriate. Saying how whatever she reads is “moving” will work well for most books.
-If you haven’t bought a copy of her novel, she will expect you to buy one and she will sign it for you. Or, you can say you have read it on your kindle or nook or Smartphone. You will not have to say that you only read the free excerpt.
BEFORE MY EYES by Caroline Bock (St. Martin's Press, 2014) more at will find out that she’s often depressed and she will make a bad joke about ending the way Sylvia Plath (head in gas oven) Hemingway did (his own shotgun). You will not think this is funny and neither will she, even though, she will say it is only a temporary condition, this darkness and despair. It’s only until she starts writing again, and then, on occasion, when she writes, and afterwards, a postpartum depression. 
-You will ask if she has started her next novel, trying to distract her, trying to encourage her—and she will say she is done writing novels, nobody buys books, nobody reads—and you will be secretly relieved, you will think that you will have your old friend back until the day you call and she is excited once again, happy even. She has started a new work. She can’t talk about it. It’s too early, too new, too fresh. She just has to write. You will say you understand even you don’t because you are good friend and you know by now that writers need good friends.

--Caroline Bock is the author of the new young adult novel: BEFORE MY EYES St. Martin's Press) available everywhere print and ebooks are sold.

If You Have A Friend Who's An Author, Be Prepared...

If you have a friend who’s an author, be prepared:
She will expect you to read her new novel,even when you say you the last novel you read was last summer—that one about billionaire sex or vampires, though you don’t want to admit this to your friend, who has written a serious literary novel.
She will say that you don’t have to read it and really mean—she wants you to buy her novel.
She will confide that she prefers you buy it at an independent bookstore,and you will not know what she means.You haven’t been to a bookstore since you had to buy your mother a Mother’s Day present two years ago. Whatever you read appears on the screen you also play games on and sometimes answer a text or an email or as a last resort:a phone call.
And then when you do buy this novel,because you are a very good friend, she will ask you,“Have you read it? And what you do think?” Since the last time you had to report on a novel was in college or high school, you will deflect her questions with, “how are the sales?” and she will shrug your question off and persist on wanting to know what you think about her novel.  
And then when you tell you love it,especially the opening scene, she will ask you about the end.You will have to say you loved it too, even if you skipped to the end and read only the last line, (hint: this English major trick will save you much persistent questioning from the writer).
After being relieved for passing this test,your author friend will ask if you will write an online review, even though you haven’t written anything about a novel since high school or college, and barely write anything longer than a text these days.
You’ll start thinking that having this friend is way too much work, if you haven’t already.
But somehow, guiltily,since you were once an English or liberal arts major too, you will compliment her on the complexity of the story once again, thinking that this will get you out of actually writing anything.But she will nudge you: Amazon only requires twenty measly words for a review.Certainly, you can write twenty words about anything, including her novel, you will think.
So later, while staring at the screen, you will wonder how anyone writes anything, how did your friend write an entire novel of words strung together into sentences baked into paragraphs, resulting in a story with living, breathing characters, which the parts you read were really pretty good, especially that twist, so unexpected, a fictional dream, you remember that phrase from somewhere, and maybe you’ll even finish her novel someday.
You will turn off your screen and sit there in the dark, thinking that if you could only think of a story, and write it down, you could be a writer too.
Caroline Bock is the author of the new young adult novel,
BEFORE MY EYES(St. Martin’s Press, 2014). More about her work at www.carolinebock.comor be her friend—and be prepared.

YOU ARE INVITED! Sunday, April 27th-Book Talk for BEFORE MY EYES -2-4 pm Rockville Public Library, Rockville, MD

 A Special BOOK TALK with
Author Caroline Bock
Join the Maryland Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America: A Special Book Talk with Caroline Bock, author of the acclaimed new young adult novel, BEFORE MY EYES, (St. Martin’s Press, 2014), about teens, mental illness and gun violence, and decisions and consequences that change lives forever.

2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Rockville Memorial Library
21 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
"Ms. Bock’s thought-provoking novel delves into the important issue of gun violence in our country. The book facilitates a discussion among young people and parents regarding the terror and prevalence of shootings, and also the ease in which anyone can obtain a gun in this country.”-Jenifer Pauliukonis, Maryland chapter leader of Moms Demand Action
REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED AND SIGNED COPIES OF BEFORE MY EYES WILL BE AVAILABLE. A Donation will be made to Moms Demand Action with every book purchase


Find out more about Moms Demand Action in Maryland at: or


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