Caroline Bock-BEFORE MY EYES
Caroline Bock - Author of BEFORE MY EYES and LIE
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Character Building Excercises -the Fictional Kind
FLASH FICTION - a new original piece of short short fiction
WHAM!!! Write A Story...A story about a story....
BEFORE MY EYES for ENGLISH AND AP PSYCHOLOGY CLASSROOMS
FINDING INSPIRATION IN... BALLSTON SPA, NEW YORK

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BOOK CLUB READING GUIDE for BEFORE MY EYES
GOOD NEWS from Caroline Bock
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TEACHER'S GUIDE TO LIE
TEACHER'S GUIDES TO BEFORE MY EYES
YOUNG ADULT MOVIE STARS
YOUNG ADULT NOVEL WRITING TIPS
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Caroline Bock-BEFORE MY EYES

GOOD NEWS from Caroline Bock

FLASH FICTION - a new original piece of short short fiction

FLASH FICTION: "Read On" -- You'll ruin your eyes, she said, like your mother, and god knows you have her eyes. She had to wear glasses.Cat's eyeglasses.She'd never wear those glasses around the boys. And here my Nana offered up another one of her sayings—about boys and girls and glasses, which went up there with the lecture on your body is a temple. The book, a library book, cradled in my arms. You'll ruin your eyes, she continued. With books. With reading. And look at me, no man likes a girl smarter than him. Look at me. Put down that book.
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Anybody who knows me, knows that I didn't book down that book or any other.  Read on! --Caroline

 

WHAM!!! Write A Story...A story about a story....


Wham! Write A Story!!
 (a story about a story for adults as well as kids)

Wham! Will writes. Ka-zooom!! And our hero flies off. The end. He adds a half dozen exclamation points to his ‘Wham’!!!!!! and three more to his Ka-zooooom!!!!!!!!!
 
 “I’m done,” he says in a very loud voice. “I’ve written the greatest story ever!”
 
But Lara, his best friend, doesn’t agree. His story isn’t done. It hasn’t even begun.
 
“Yes, it is! See I wrote ‘the end.’"
 
“You don’t have a beginning,” says Lara. “Where’s the ‘Once upon a time’ or ‘it was a dark and stormy night?’”
 
“I have “Wham!' With an exclamation point.”
 
“Okay, you can start with wham! But something has to happen next. You have to introduce the setting or the characters.  Then something has to happen to the characters. Also, you’re using a lot of exclamation points!!!”
 
“Exclamation points look like soldiers, and I like them. But what’s the setting? Why do I need that?”
 
“Where the story takes place. The setting is also about when it takes place. For example, does it take place now? Or in the past? Or in the future?”
 
“I want it to take place here, Lara. On the page.”
 
“You have to take it off the page. Bring it into reader’s mind. My mind.”
 
“Then, how about at school?”
 
“What kind of school?  You have to be specific. The more details in a story, the better the story. An elementary school? A big school? The world’s biggest elementary school?”
 
“The world’s most gigantic elementary school. A billion and twenty-nine kids go there.”
 
“I’m glad I don’t go there.”
 
“It’s my setting,” says Will.
 
Lara stretched across the white sheet of paper, her character aching to go someplace. To do something or to want something—the story needed a plot.    
 
“Okay, so you have the setting. Who’s in the story? Who’s this story about? Is there a main character—other than us— that does something? That propels all the action and stuff forward.”
 
“Huh?”
 
“What happens next? That’s the plot. You have to ask yourself what happens to your characters?”
 
Will underlines with his newly sharpened yellow pencil a line where he says that his superhero flies off to fight the evil alien mutants, right before ‘the end.’

“Let’s back up. Is that your main character? A superhero? Not me?”
 
“I don’t write books about girls.”
 
“Today you will, or I’m leaving.”
 
“I guess I could add you but only as a secondary character.”
 
“Forget it then. This story ends now.”
 
“No, wait!!! Lara!!! You can be a main character too.”
 
“A superhero too?”
 
“Yes, a superhero, too.
 
“What’s my name in the story?”
 
“Can’t you just be Lara?”
 
“What’s the other superhero’s name?”
 
“He has a name,” said Will, clutching his pencil even tighter.
 
“You didn’t include it.”
 
“But I know the name.”
 
“And I only know what you write on the page, Will, and what I read. So what’s his name? What does he look like? What is he thinking? Seeing? Touching? Feeling? Use all of your senses to describe himand me.”  
 
Will put his pencil down on the lined notebook paper.  
 
“That’s okay. You are going to have to edit and revise this story—every writer does that. But hey, tell me, what does this other hero want? What do I want?”
 
“I don’t know. I never know what you want, Lara!”
 
“I want to save the world, of course. Ka—zooom!! Don’t all heroes want to save the world?”
 
Will snatches up his pencil and scribbles that down: save the world. Ka—zooom!!.
 
“What obstacles do we face? What decisions do we make? All this tumult is about something called: Plot. We have to have stuff happen to us. Challenges. What helps us or stops us from doing our job or getting what we want or, in this story, saving the world? Start at the beginning, again. You can do this. You can write your own heroes, Will.”
 
“Can I use exclamation points?”
 
“Maybe just one or two,” said Lara laughing with Will, and with that Lara ka-zoomed off the page.
 
“Wham!” dashed off Will, beginning his story, again....


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Caroline Bock is the author of two critically-acclaimed young adult novels: BEFORE MY EYES and LIEKa -zoooom!!!

BEFORE MY EYES for ENGLISH AND AP PSYCHOLOGY CLASSROOMS

"Before My Eyesby Caroline Bock, takes the reader through the last few days of summer from the perspectives of three narrators: two teens and a mentally-ill young adult. Bock skillfully weaves together the topics of schizophrenia, gun violence, family issues, and typical adolescent angst while at the same time providing a compelling story. Though the reader gets a glimpse of the book’s climax in the first few pages, the end plays out in an unexpected way when unlikely heroes emerge. As a retired Professor of Education, I believe Before My Eyes would be an excellent book for an 11th or 12th-grade English class, and since it provides a realistic portrayal of schizophrenia, it might even be a good choice for an AP Psychology class. Whatever one’s reason for choosing this book, the reader will not be disappointed."—Edmund Sass, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus of Education

This summer, I "met" Dr. Sass through the world of social media. He runs a website, Educational Resources and Lessons Plans, and I emailed him about my new novel, Before My Eyes. He was driving through the small town of Bock, Minnesota, population 106, (a town I someday plan to visit!) when he received my email. And so it goes that we he read my brief note, and he agreed to review a copy of Before My Eyes.

I am amazed how we find ourselves connected to one another—and grateful.


P.S. The Teacher's Guide for BEFORE MY EYES is also posted on my web site...click here
 

FINDING INSPIRATION IN... BALLSTON SPA, NEW YORK


Mark Louis Gallery in Ballston Spa, New YorkMy brother Mark creates art from heart pine lumber in his studio in Ballston Spa, New York. The studio was once a barn that once shoed horses and repaired buggies. There are nicks for blacksmith tools and for the horseshoes in planks and rafters. He paints his art, some of it furniture, some of it paintings, the colors of the earth— brushed browns, and deep reds and yellows, allies of zinnias and sunflowers. Mark is a gentle giant of a guy with a beard going grey and retro glasses, reminiscent of the glasses our father wore all his life, and I wonder if he wears them because they are cool and hip, or because they remind him of our father, who was neither?

The wind stirs in through the open windows, and the studio is a mixed scent of green wood and dog or horse and wildflowers from his plantings out front— and bad eggs, the sulfur from the springs that feed this upstate New York town. The art is substantial— a fish, three-and-a -half feet long, a carved rooster, its tail flaring, weighing four or five times the weight of a living rooster; the smooth flesh-like wood of a horse painting over four or five hands high. I wait to hear the rooster crow or the horse rear back or the fish, let’s call it salmon, splash out of its river toward to the sun, returning to spawn in the riverbed were it was born. The light dapples in and plays with the art.
Mark Louis Gallery in Ballston Spa, New York
My brother and I are only together for a few days until we return to our own, lonelier lives. On Sunday night, we flick on an old movie in his loft above the studio. “How Green Was My Valley,” won the Oscar in 1941 famously beating out “Citizen Kane,” is on Turner Classic Movies. As we watch, we both agree: our father would have liked this John Ford movie about a Welsh family of coalminers, a workingman’s tribute— and then there’s the ending. He would have hated the ending. He liked movies in which the good guys win: the American beat the Nazis; the average guy overcomes odds to find love and happiness. I don’t want to ruin it, but the father in the move dies tragically in his son’s arms, close enough to what happened with Mark and my father that we can’t talk when it’s over that we sit there on his couch in the dark next to one another, the silence running through us.

Once, we spent long summer days at our games: kickball, ring-o-leavio, red light green light one-two-three, one-two-three. We were four latchkey children without keys, the house on Daisy Farms Drive left forever unlocked by our father since it was easier not to dole out a key to each of the four of us kids.

Anyway, we were always racing inside and outside, shouting for one another—our father booming at us: What the hell are you doing? Do you think you live in a barn? Close the door— playing freeze tag or hide and seek on languid summer nights until it was dark, and we could no longer hide or seek —Get in the house! You want to get killed by a car playing in the street at this time of night?

After another threat or two, we’d come running, shouting too. He’d scuff our heads, his form of love, which we will never forget. My father never understood how he got a son, an artist, and a daughter, a writer, but he always had the same advice for the four of us —the way you make your bed, is the way you’ll sleep in it—which we didn’t understand until we did.  
 
Finding Inspiration… Writing Prompts…
-Is there one locale (like my brother’s studio) in which all your senses feel alive? Write about that place.
-Do you have a sibling that inspires you? Write a short scene you and him or her as an adult… and then another with you as a child.
 
IF You Want To Visit...
Ballston Spa, New York, it’s about five minutes from downtown Saratoga Springs, just north of Albany. Ballston Spa has an array of antique and craft shops, and yes, Mark Louis Gallery.

 
 
 
 
 

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!!
 

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.
 
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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

Join! YA READS FOR TEACHERS (And Other Adults) reading and discussing BEFORE MY EYES online at Goodreads...Learn more here...

You are invited to a virtual month-long discussion of BEFORE MY EYES with author Caroline Bock!

Date: March, 2014

Venue: YA Reads for Teachers (And Any Other Adults!)
On line at GOODREADS

Location: The United States

Description:
Here is the Goodreads book summary of BEFORE MY EYES:
From the author of LIE, a powerful new young adult novel about a fateful Long Island summer and the lives of three young people who will never be the same...
 
REVIEWS:
"GRIPPING..." -Publishers Weekly
 
"GRIPPING, DISTURBING AND NUANCED."
-Kirkus Reviews
 
"Every one of Bock's fragile characters hides an unflinching inner backbone of steel. Impassioned and moving." - Elizabeth Wein, bestselling author of Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire.
 
Take some time to poke around Caroline's web page and her blog.
 
The link for the discussion has already been posted -- we hope you stop by! https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...
 
 
Message from Rory M., moderator of the goodreads group, YA For Teachers (and Other Adults): 
I'm thrilled to have Caroline Bock as our guest this month! Let us know if we should expect you on the discussion thread -- it is a book that will haunt you!

...and I hope you can join too....Caroline


TOOTH FAIRIES and OTHER FAIRIES (BOOK FAIRIES)

My eight-year-old daughter lost another tooth this week, and she insisted that she still believed in the tooth fairy. So the tooth fairy was contacted and replied with this note:

2.28.14
Dear Sara,
I believe in you…
And I’m glad you believe in me.
Stay forever young…
With love always,
Your Tooth Fairy
xxoo

This note (and a few dollars) from the tooth fairy made a little girl very happy. Do you still believe?

Sometimes it's nice to know that simple things are still good things to believe in--like the tooth fairy.

--Caroline


P.S. If I had a fairy, it would be a book fairy, someone who waves a wand and encourages all to go read my new young adult novel, BEFORE MY EYES, which is NOT at all whimsical, but as much adult as much as young adult. Look for BEFORE MY EYES everywhere books/ebooks are sold. Read it with your mature teen (age 14 and above) or just read it.    
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