Caroline Bock-BEFORE MY EYES
Caroline Bock - Author of BEFORE MY EYES and LIE
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Dear Bill Gates...ideas for your summer reading list
Signs of Winter and Spock...Illogical and Logical Ends


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Caroline Bock-BEFORE MY EYES

Bockposts Book News

Dear Bill Gates...ideas for your summer reading list

Dear Bill Gates:
I’m concerned about your summer reading list, heavy on nonfiction titles, lacking in fiction, classics, poetry, which reflect the common core of what I believe every educated American should read (of course, I will readily admit that this is totally subjective, and I want to stress that I am happy that you are reading at all, something I stress to my own children).
So, I have some alternative titles to your summer reading list for you to consider:   
-The Complete Works of Emily Dickinson, short poems, easy to read at the beach, or choose any other poetry collection.
-1984 by George Orwell. I am amazed at how often George Orwell’s 1984 is quoted, especially in relations to politics and to technology. I plan to re-read this summer, and I think you should too. “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the presents controls the past.”
-The “Battle Royal” section of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison to understand the history of racism and pain in America. The entire the book is moving too, but it’s that chapter you have to read.
-Hilary Mantel’s Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories,  or Lydia Davis’ Collected Stories, or George Pellecanos’ Martini Shot, if you’d like some terrific genre short fiction— one nice thing about short story collections is you can feel free to skip a story or two and still say you read the book. I’ve been reading a lot of short fiction lately—short fiction focuses the mind, and these stories all present character, image, conflict in the most concise way.  
-The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, my son just read this in 9 grade – talks about being the ‘outsider’ and ‘other’ here in America better than any young adult novel. One other thought: Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, winner of this year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, written in verse. I have it on my TBR list and so should you.  
-Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, the Broadway show is a big hit, but the graphic novel is a deep and moving tale of a father and daughter— and coming out. And it’s always cool to say you read graphic novels.
I’m sure others would have suggestions for you that go beyond your limited nonfiction and science/tech-focused summer book reading choices— any others out there? 
I’d just urge you to go farther and wider and be more open and curious in your reading, and if you do, to share it with us all. 
Read on, Bill! Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!
Caroline Bock
*Full disclosure: I am the author of two critically acclaimed young adult novels: Before My Eyes (St. Martin’s Press, 2014) and LIE (St. Martin’s Press, 2011). You can also always read these book:)! More at

BEFORE MY EYES Now available as a trade paperback!

BEFORE MY EYES trade paperback now available from St. Martin's PressSharing good news... today the trade paperback version of my latest YA novelBEFORE MY EYES is available from St. Martin's Press. Why does this matter? It's cheaper than the hardcover version. It's easy to bring to the beach (if it ever stops snowing in New England, this is will be a plus). It's set at the end of a long hot summer (So even if it is freezing right now, you can read about summer). But is it a so-called summer read??  Well, it's a serious summer read—— about paranoid schizophrenia, gun violence, and the teen loneliness and romance at the end of a long hot summer. Lastly, it's been called a"powerful read," by reviewers and by many readers. Thank you for considering BEFORE MY EYES, which is now available in hardcover, trade paperback, and ebook formats, everywhere books are sold.

Character Building Excercises -the Fictional Kind

First some thoughts on character:
“Character is the very life of fiction. Setting exists so that the character has someplace to stand, something that can help define him, something he can pick up and throw, if necessary, or eat, or give to his girlfriend. Plot exists so the character can discover himself (and in the process reveal to the reader) what he, the character is really like: plot forces the character to choice and action, transforms him from a static construct to a lifelike human being making choices or reaping the rewards.       And theme exists only to make the character stand up and be somebody: theme is elevated critical language for what the character’s main problem is.” (On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner, p. 54)
On the ‘”accuracy of the writer’s eye”
“….whether you’re writing about people or dragons, your personal observation of how things happen in the world – how character reveals itself can turn a dead scene into a vital one…. Good advice might be: Write as if you were a movie camera. Get exactly what is there. All human beings see with astonishing accuracy, not that they can write it down…. Getting it down precisely is all that is meant by ‘the accuracy of the writer’s eye.’ Getting down what the writer really cares about – setting down what the writer himself notices, as opposed to what any fool might notice – is all that is meant by the originality of the writer’s eye. Every human being has original vision….”  (p. 71, Gardner).
Pixar story artist Emma Coats tweeted a series of “story basics” here are her highlights on developing character:
#1 You admire a character for trying more than for their successes
-- Simplify. Focus. Combine character. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
-- What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
-- Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
-- Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
--What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character.   What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against. 
--If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
1) Take a simple act, say unbuttoning a shirt, pulling on a sock, pouring a cup of coffee or milk, and write it in slow motion, that is, give it two hundred words. Don’t automatically lapse into hyperbole (and thereby the comic), but think of the effect: make it matter-of-fact, sinister, gross, full of touch, feel, sight, and smell.
Discuss how the manner in which the character performs the act shapes his character.       
2) Write two hundred words on a character entering a space (a car, a classroom, a kitchen, a backyard, etc). Inventory all the sense of the space as she moves toward the one thing that she desperately wants in that space. Take your time and describe in detail what the character sees, hears, smells, senses and knows—and doesn’t know—about the surroundings.      
Discuss how the character’s perceptions or point of view, and motivation or want, shapes this character.
                                                            Adapted from Ron Carlson Writes A Story by Ron Carlson

I've written two novels with multiple points of view... if you haven't read them yet, consider BEFORE MY EYES and LIE.

Write on!

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

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.

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


CATS versus DOGS... Thoughts On Writing...

Cats versus Dogs more at www.carolinebock.comI own a cat.
BEFORE MY EYES by Caroline Bock  Cover Photo However, I wrote a new novel, BEFORE MY EYES, with a dog, a blind dog, named King, as a key character. He “sees” what others can’t—particularly about his owner, 17-year-old Max Cooper, who is struggling at the end of a long, hot summer.
Not only do I own a cat, but as an adult, I have only owned a dog, a puppy, named Goldie, for three days, (and three very long nights), until my husband and I realized that we weren’t ready for a puppy. We weren’t ready for children either, but we were really not ready to take care of a puppy. We were in our mid-20s and barely able to take care of ourselves.
We wouldn’t have children until sixteen years into our marriage, and we would never have another dog. Over the years, we became committed cat people, specializing in bruiser cats—big, bold, neutered male cats—with old man names such as Marvin and Shelton.
Yet I wrote a second young adult novel in which the blind dog metaphorically saves one character’s life, and is a key part in literally saving others. I based his character on my brother’s dog, who is one of the smartest and most empathetic of creatures, and who is also a black Labrador.
The reader reaction to King has been strong and overwhelmingly positive.  So I’ve been thinking about the reasons. A dog belongs to family in a way that a cat does not bother himself with being.  In a novel, a dog can be taken outside, can be the excuse for a walk (this happens twice in my novel), can be critical to the play on a soccer field (also a key scene), and can express warnings, fears, love—all of which King does in BEFORE MY EYES.
Cats, frankly, can’t be bothered with humans much of the time; they aren’t anyone’s cipher but utterly unto themselves, at least the cats, I’ve known. As Mark Twain noted, “If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”  On the other hand, Twain also looked highly on dogs, “Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” At the end of the day, I find favor in both cats and dogs, sometimes too, over man.
This time around I wrote about a heroic dog, a blind dog, named in King in BEFORE MY EYES—a novel about teens, mental illness and gun violence—appropriate for teen ages 14 and above, and adults of all ages. Read the book and find out why readers are rooting for this novel—and for King.  

Cats versus Dogs ... more at www.carolinebock.comP.S. Are you a dog or cat person? What is your favorite dog or cat in literature?
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