Caroline Bock-BEFORE MY EYES
Caroline Bock - Author of BEFORE MY EYES and LIE
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THROWING SNOWBALLS AT PENGUINS by Caroline Bock PUBLISHED by AKASHIC BOOKS' web series Fri-SciFi
Blade Runner
"SWEETNESS" - THE WAY TO MY HEART
SIX WORD MEMOIR
Where Does a Writer Start?

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Caroline Bock-BEFORE MY EYES

Inspiration Tip -Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC

Inspiration tip -- a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Avenue and 86th street in Manhattan -- one of the greatest museums in the world -- can be very inexpensive.  But, you have to be smart about it.  In small print under the admission price -- you will see that the cost is 'suggested.'  You can, as I did this week, walk up and say, 'two adults,' and hand them whatever money you want for admission.  No need for any explanations.  Just say two adults for ten dollars, or five dollars, or any price you want to pay (the suggested price is $25.00 for adults, and in my mind, strictly for tourists!).  Children under 12 are free.  And for children under 12, next to the museum is a wonderful playground -- called the 'Ancient Playground' and set up to look like the Egyptian temples one can see inside the museum -- this is absolutely free to all.  The Temple of Dendur, the mummies, and the Greek galleries were particular favorites of my 6th grader, who is studying ancient civilizations in social studies  (warning you will see full nudity in the Greek galleries -- but, hey, it is a statue:).  Last hint: Do not eat in the museum, especially the cafeteria -- overpriced -- go outside and buy a hot dog and NY pretzel -- tastes better and half the price!   More at www.metmuseum.org.

Haiku Among the Greek Statues in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

His eyes rage against
the cruel disfigurement:
Cold stone still breaking.

Truly, author of LIE
now available everywhere
books and ebooks are sold

SMART CAT... POETRY... WRITING

When I procrastinate with my writing, like I am doing today, I often read poetry.  I stumbled on this Christopher Smart poem at www.poets.org... it's on his cat, Jeffrey, and was written in the 18th century.  I believe in the power of cats, and it seems Mr. Smart does too.  They are essential, especially to this writer, proud owner of the 22-lb lover-boy of a cat, Shelton.   Here is a fragment of a fragment from the great Christopher Smart that renewed me:

...For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.

Truly, author of LIE. 
available everywhere print and ebooks are sold.

VALENTINE'S DAY 2012

Two Haiku Reflections on Valentine’s Day 2012 
 
We are like those birds--
Swans: pearl-white, long-necked, in pairs--
one as much as two.
                       *
School day.  Time to get
                              Up.  Wash up. Brush teeth?  Breakfast?
                              Hearts hurry.  Kiss.  Kiss. 

                              Truly, the author ofLIE.

A WRINKLE IN TIME 50th anniversary edition -my first classic read of 2012

A Wrinkle In Time 50th Anniversary edition is a gem. As an adult reader (and full disclosure: an author of my own young adult novel: LIE], I have fallen in love with the story of Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin again. One of my resolutions 02 2012 (does anyone really keep these??) was to read or re-read some classics.  Friends sent me ideas:  Sylvia Plath, Nabokov, Shakespeare, and to start, I chose this magical childhood favorite celebrating it's 50th year in print. 
 
First, I must say that this new hardcover edition is worth buying -- it's physically beautiful, with a luscious red and gold updated cover, and additional material including essays by noted children's writer Katherine Paterson and L'Engle's granddaughter, as well as to the delight of this writer -- a copy of a work-in-progress manuscript of the opening chapter.  This piece is complete with L'Engle's notations. Lastly, I was inspired by the inclusion of her Newbery Medal acceptance speech.  Every aspiring writer must read this speech, ‘The Expanding Universe’ from 1963 and this book!
 
If you are an adult reader, be prepared to be transported by the language (quotes by greats Pascal, Aristotle, and more, which I'm sure I glossed over at 10 or 11 years old, are so terrific now).  I’ve fallen in love again with Charles Wallace and his love of words, his obsession with the meaning of them.  Most of all,  I’ve fallen again for the story of the search for a father -- and for meaning in this far-reaching universe.  I plan to re-read again with my 11- year-old and 6-year-old, but first I wanted to savor it all by myself!   
 
A Wrinkle in Time expanded my horizons as a young child and has done so again.  As L’Engle says in her medal acceptance speech, “A book, too, can be a star, ‘explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,’ a living fire to lighten the darkness leading out into the expanding universe.”

 




The Difference Between Being a Writer and A Parent: Giving Names

Names are hard.  I had a seasoned journalist ask me this week, how did I decide what to name my characters?   There are ten distinct first person characters in my novel, LIE, and about ten additional secondary characters. 

I said I had to create the characters first, and then name them.   He pointed out that we name babies before we know them.   So I've been thinking of this. 

The difference between parents and writers and giving names is that when you're a writer you can create the character, the inner life, the psychological turmoil, the hair and eye color, whether they have bad breath or not, before you name the character -- and if you don't like any of this, or if you don't like the name, you can change it.   Upon reading my young adult novel, a few readers have remarked that the teenage boy's names feel old-fashioned -- Jimmy and Sean -- and in fact both are named after their fathers.  Jimmy is someone trying to prove himself to his father.  He does this through sports -- and through the hateful actions against Hispanics.   I wanted him to have a name that reflected his father, and to be all-American, hence he is James Seeger, Jr.,  or Jimmy, the  popular Scholar-Athlete to all his friends.   I wanted the father, James Seeger, to be filled with rage, bigotry and hate and to reflect that back on the son.  I wanted an unbroken circle, the apple not to fall far from the tree.  These characters practically named themselves.

However, when you have a baby, and you hold him close, you don't know much about this baby, even the hair or eye color can change from birth.  You may have an idea about the name, you've researched some, discarded the one that is the name of your high school nemesis, been told that it would be nice, so nice, to name the baby after your husband's  great-great grandmother. The fact is: you are totally unqualified, still in a fog from a 14-hour delivery, to name a baby, much less remember you're own name.  Yet, you are commanded, by the nurse, to fill out a birth certificate, to name him.  You think of all the names you've writen down, hope that one will work.  Even more so,  hope that this name will bestow good--   that he will go strong and smart and make a difference in the world.  When he kicks his swaddling blanket off, you notice, again, his big feet.  These are the feet that have been kicking you the past few months.  For some reason, that reassures you enough to name him. 
Or, if she smiles at you, less than a day old, the nurse will tell you it's gas.  But you know it's her trying to tell you her name.  You hold her mouth to your ear.  Is she, this new born baby, trying to whisper her name?  You smell her baby smell: milky and musty,  as if that will give you a hint.  I held my daughter this way -- and she spit in my ear as if curious to my reaction.  I laughed, and I swear, so did she.  Of course, she could have no other name than the one my husband and I gave to her. 

So maybe it's not that different -- at the start.  Maybe the only difference is that a writer can with a few clicks change a character's name, adjust the inner life or physical description to match, if they must, if the character insists upon it. 

But once you give a name to a child, it's his or hers, even if they go to great lengths to change it, which people rarely do --  it's the name your mother and father gave you.  You're running from something if you change that name, you have something to  hide.   Help!   Why do I feel a new character coming on? 

Am I onto something with names?

This post is dedicated to Michael and Sara, may they grow tall and strong, may they run fast, may they be curious about the world and be kind to others, and to themselves.      Truly, from the author of LIE.

    

ENVY

I envy:
-People who can pay for college in full for five sons
-People who get shoeshines on their way to private corporate jets
-People who use the word 'envy' with such moral gravity to describe those who are struggling to pay bills, the middle class and all the rest of the 99%, as if there was time enough in our days for 'envy.'

When asked what he and his striking men wanted, Samuel Gompers, famous union organizer, simply replied: 'More.'

It's not envy to want more -- from our politicians, our country, and from ourselves.  We should be given the opportunity to want more -- and to dream too.

Envy Haiku
Envy, covet or
Want?  I prefer want, simpler:
Want more, envy less.

Truly, from author of LIE.  

Cinderella, Cher, Michael Jackson... and Santa... in the Bronx

Sometimes we all need an adventure.  Yesterday  was one - to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, the true 'Little Italy.'  Shopped for fresh mozzarella, sweet Italian sausage, right-out-of-the-oven olive bread, marzipan cookies.  Had dinner at old-style Italian restaurant -- Marios - on Arthur Avenue with husband and kids.  Veal parmigina.  Highly recommend.  Then, we drove to Pelham Parkway.... stopped along Williamsbridge Road and Morris Park Avenue, and remembered being four-and-a-half, living here.  We drove further down Pelham Parkway and found what we were truly looking for The New York Christmas House (yes, someone's actual home - the Garabedien family - a family of costume designers!) decorated with over 200 costumed mannequins  --from Cinderella to Cher to Mickey to Santa on the roof -- and lights --and crowds all in good cheer at the spectacle!  An adventure!!

Last thought:  looking for a different holiday present -- signed copies of LIE now available at Barnes & Noble in Carle Place and at Book Revue in Huntington!  (And yes, that's Michael Jackson behind Cher).  Joy of the season to all!! 

If you are in a book club check out LITLOVERS

If you are in a book club, teen or adult, check out LITLOVERS -- the fabulous Molly there just ran a review of LIE and has a reading guide to the novel posted. 

Here's a peek at the Molly Lundquist review at LitLovers:   "What's so very good about this book is that while the author places two young people in the midst of a horrific dilemma, she makes their quandary palpable without over-dramatizing. Bock also draws a clear moral distinction between right and wrong but, again, does so without preaching and condescension. The only false note is in Jimmy Seegar's father, the single character who seems overdrawn. But it's a terrific resource for book clubs."

I could have  ... the part out about Jimmy's father -- but I appreciate that Molly read LIE so closely.  You read LIE and judge. 

Molly has other thoughtful, insightful recommendations -- plus other fun ideas for books clubs (recipes, books that make you go 'wow,'  books that make you go 'ow,' word etymologies  -- i.e. do you know the history of the word 'thunder' -- I didn't -- go to the site and find out!! ).  In short, she's smart.   I like smart.   

NPR REVIEW - plus THE CITY and coming Home

Driving up the BQE (Brooklyn Queen Expressway) last night from Bay Ridge, just out of Park Slope, feeling so NYC --  Brooklyn Bridge ahead, going east toward the L.I.E.  (Long Island Expressway).  Thank you Pam and Lyn for the opportunity to read with you at Perch, what an amazing experience.  Won't be home home till past 1 a.m. too late, even for me, feeling beat, found this review by Joan Baum, arts critic extraordinaire, NPR  (National Public Radio).  Calls LIE a 'knock out' in a three minute radio review.  Before this: Feel the lights and the sharp, gas-fumed air, and the drill of construction and the sound of cars with radios too loud, like mine, trying to stay awake,  calling out to the east, where the sun will rise, hours from now., almost home, open the windows, ice-cold, almost home, past is present, present, past, I don't know which, I've drunk two glasses of wine and worked all day and then read at this reading with over 75 people there, read LIE, even though the words were blurry, from the work and the wine.  At home:   WSHU -- no more acronyms, only the call of home, of finally coming home, and the review for LIE.    Listen to the review, listen now.  I'm tired now. But the review is GREAT.

Come Toast Three Amazing Women Writers! Thursday, December 1st at 7:30 pm at Perch Cafe in Park Slope, Brooklyn

Come toast three amazing women writers -- a reading with Di Iorio, Laskin and Bock (me!) at Perch Cafe in Park Slope, Brooklyn (365 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY) on Thursday, December 1st at 7:30-10:00  pm.  Lyn Di Iorio has written this amazing debut novel -- a mystery -- Outside the Bones -- I'm just reading it now, and don't want to put it down!!  Pam Laskin is reading from Visitation Rites, her touching young adult novel about a girl and her mentally ill mother -- so moving, and set in Brooklyn!!  And I'm, of course, reading from LIE, my debut young adult novel. Join us -- Pam is providing the wine!  They'll be treats!  It's all free!  Plus, three moving, inspiring readings!  Thursday, December 1st at Perch Cafe in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  
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