Caroline Bock-BEFORE MY EYES
GOOD NEWS from Caroline Bock
Where does a writer start?
The question WHY? Eventually, upon analysis, I’ve learned that my initial
why. My curiosity. My questioning
myself and the human condition – leads to what English teachers call
How, in the 21st century, in Long Island, New York, can a group of suburban teens—turn on people who lived among them? Strangers, but not strange. Two brothers who weren’t bothering anyone—just because they were not like them? And why did no one——parents, teachers, coaches, notice anything? Why did none of their wide circle of friends say: this is wrong? What is the nature of hate and prejudice in the 21
century? These are the questions my character struggle with in my 2011 young adult novel, LIE.
With my 2014 young adult novel–Before My Eyes– three intertwined stories – but also inspired by the why. Why did no
one see what was going inside with these three fragile teens–especially one
who is going through a psychic break–and who has so easily bought a gun?
The second thing I start with is:
A voice in my head. A sense that something is
going to happen to this person–I’m not sure what, but I’m going on a
journey with him or her. It may end well; it may not. It may end unsettled—in a
question because my characters are complicated.
Ultimately, these novels end.
Yet life remains complicated, so I am starting a new novel; one I am aiming for adults, since our lives, these days, are more complicated than ever. STAY TUNED.
THE CRITIQUE GROUP
talk about giving birth and menopause, about celebrities we would jump in bed
with if we had the opportunity, about being married forever from one of us, and
not having a date in eighteen months, shit, maybe more— and about your
grandmother: How is she? Her home in Chevy Chase is being sold. Ninety years
old, and my parents have decided that she can not live alone anymore— the
unreliable furnace and those long flights of stairs leading to all those
unopened rooms. We gather closer to her, the youngest among us, and urge her to
write more, about her grandmother, about what matters and what terrifies. What
we think to ourselves: How did we find one another? How lucky we are— four
women poised between twenty-nine and fifty. What we say aloud: We should meet
more often. We drink more wine, weep, scream, howl, beat our fists against one
another, laugh gulping for air, a certain power in us to write about anything. And
he always arrives late, slick with sweat, riding his bicycle on even the
coldest of nights, changing the pheromones in the wide-open room. When he says:
Did I miss anything? We say: We haven’t even started.
The Critique Group was included in the new anthology, ABUNDANT GRACE published by Richard Peabody and Paycock Press in December, 2016, and featuring women writers in the Washington DC area. My fiction selection is one of the shortest in this amazing collection. Praise be to Richard Peabody for including it. Copies of the anthology can be purchased at http://www.gargoylemagazine.com/paycock.
A year or so ago I was watching the evening news and saw an image that filled me with anger and despair. The result was this piece of short or "flash" fiction entitled: "BEHEADED," which was just published in the wonderful online literary journal,FICTION SOUTHEAST.
Here is a link to this new short short:
Thank you for reading!
What is this? A mini-sweepstakes for LIE, my critically-acclaimed (*starred* reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, School Library Journal and more)young adult novel. Why now? Today, Thursday, April 14, Donald Trump, GOP candidate for President of the United States, is having a political rally in Patchogue, New York on Long Island. What happened there, in 2008, a horrendous hate crime, the murder of Marcelo Lucero inspired LIE.
I wrote LIE to understand why this could happen in a town so near where I lived at the time.
I write to understand. I write to build bridges, not walls.
Enter for a chance to win a copy of LIE. It's only two copies, LIE is widely available these days in public libraries, but if you haven't read or heard of my young adult novel (appropriate for ages 14 and above and adults), I thought it timely to do a FREE giveaway. The link is live only through April 16th:
I was going to write a long blog about the value of entering
contests, but what I really want you to do is read my short story,
"Gargoyles and Stars,"winner of the 2016 Writer Magazine short story
contest judged by Colum McCann. I rarely enter contests so I truly have
no wisdom to share except to enter them once in a while, if you admire
the work of the judge or the publication, if you feel lucky, if you
don't feel lucky and want to feel lucky for a moment. ——Caroline
The Writer Magazine
December 23, 2015
Twists, turns, double meanings and double lives. These are some of the
recurring themes for our Two Roads Diverge contest. Guest judge Colum
McCann chose the three winners and an honorable mention. We are happy to
announce them here.
Read the winning story in our March issue, on newsstands February 9, and read all three on writermag.com in January.
Caroline Bock and her submission "Gargoyles and Stars" introduces us to the cheerful and humorous Lydia, on the hunt in New York City for her parked car. Despite many vibrant memories, her loyalty to the past is trumped only by the fact that it doesn’t exist in the present except in her imagi
Guest judge Colum McCann noted Bock's style, saying, "It’s a brave story with many different strands nicely helixed together."
A young adult novelist, Bock has published poetry and short stories with F(r)iction, Ploughshares and Prometheus. Her poetry has been nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize. She currently lives in Maryland, where she works as freelance bookseller.
The Best Holiday Present ever!
Here's to a 2016 filled with inspiration and creativity for us all!
HOW NOT TO WRITE...
-Listen to that voice that pounds the back of your skull
with,“Not today. I can’t do it. I’ll start on Monday morning at 6 a.m., no, at
-Oversleep on Monday morning until 7 a.m. and decide it’s
way too late to start.
-Talk about what you are going to write. Tell it to your writer friends, your book club, to the guy in accounting, who admits that the last novel he read was in
-Decide what you need is another outline. Exhaust yourself scribing
on a long yellow legal pad every plot point you can imagine (Zombies! Ebola
pandemics! Martians!) into your historical novel set in mid-20
century Europe.Add this yellow legal pad to the pile beside your desk.
-Confirm to yourself that what you truly need is more
research. This gets you going. The World Wide Web—hours wrap like rubber
bands into a ball— and reams of notes printed out. But it’s not enough. You can
justify a trip. You are writing about Italy, you must seek out the wonders of
Rome, or at least visit a nearby pizza joint, or partake of a shot of espresso at
the coffee shop. All this inspires you to do more research.
-Focus on your computer or your printer or desk. The printer
is hacking out pages like an old man with phlegm. Shouldn’t you upgrade? Isn’t
your monitor too small? Isn’t it time to back up? Clean up history? Shouldn’t
you be working at one of those standing desks—wouldn’t jogging on a treadmill
attached to your desk improve your writing? A trip to the office supply store is
what’s required, and you set out, determined to conquer technology and write
more, better, faster— and get in shape.
-Do anything but write one sentence and then another until a
page is done, a scene or chapter is drafted. How to write that first sentence?
That’s another blog.
Much response to this post, so I've added this addendum:
"Graham Greene realized early in his writing career that if he wrote just
500 words a day, he would have written several million words in just a
few decades. So he developed a routine of writing for exactly two hours
every day, and he was so strict about stopping after exactly two hours
that he often stopped writing in the middle of a sentence...." (from the Writer's Almanac). Great advice, and now, I have to stop writing... (only kidding, I am just getting started!) Caroline
Bock is the author of two critically acclaimed young adult novels: LIE
(St. Martin’s Press, 2011) and BEFORE MY EYES
(St. Martin’s Press,
2014). Her short stories and poetry have been published or are forthcoming in Akashic Press, Gargoyle Magazine
Defying Gravity Anthology, Fiction Southeast, 100 Word Story, Ploughshares,Prometheus,Vestal Review,
. She is also a contributor to The Washington Independent Review of Books. She writes every day, or
at least attempts to write. More at wwww.carolinebock.com
Labor Day. Unofficial End to Summer. But summer of 2015 had
a few unexpected delights…
Re-read Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret. How ahead
of the time was Judy Blume? unexpectedly fresh and relevant, especially since I have a ten-year-old daughter!
Humans on AMC… Synths, a.k.a. synthetic robots, more humane than humans—and complete with
British accents. This BBC drama is a futuristic take on the
‘Upstairs/Downstairs’ life with lots of plot turns and heart. Plus, I've read that it's already renewed for a second season. The Strain on FX… The second season of New York City under
siege from pulp fiction-inspired, Nazi-backing, vampire-infected creatures took the idea
that NYC could be a dangerous place to bring up kids to new levels. A fabulous multi-racial
cast, inspired by novels of the same name, make this well-written series worth watching. Plus, I've heard: expect more of THE STRAIN next summer!
Jurassic World…Saw this with my kids and found, unexpectedly, it was lot
of fun for me too Made me think again: how cool would a real Jurassic Park be?
Mr. Holmes…I went for the cast—Ian McKellen as the aging Sherlock Holmes, and one of my all-time favorite actresses, Laura Linney as his housekeeper.
What I didn’t expect is how much this would be a movie about the process of writing. If you are a
writer, go immediately to see.
I Believe in Unicorns…I streamed this absolute delight of
an indie film about first love on Amazon…and now I believe in
unicorns. If you liked "Fault in Our Stars," I suggest you watch I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS. It's now streaming to a television or computer near you!
So here we are at another Labor Day, which has a special
meaning to me. The setting of my new young adult novel, BEFORE MY EYES,is Labor Day weekend on Long Island,
New York. If you haven’t read BEFORE MY EYES yet, I urge you to do so this
Labor Day. I find there’s something unexpectedly metaphysically rewarding about
reading books at the moment, or in the place, that they are set.
Onward to autumn!
“When the King of Siam disliked a courtier,
He gave him a beautiful white elephant."
….” In Dispraise of Poetry by Jack Gilbert
I made a great find this past weekend at Capitol Books, a
used bookstore in D.C., with floor-to-ceilings offerings in a row house near the Eastern
Market—a copy of the poet Jack Gilbert’s Views of Jeopardy, his first book of
poetry from The Yale Series of Younger Poets, published in 1962. I am not a
collector of things— I’ve never felt the urge to bring anything but words into
I believe there may be a chapbook out there. I remember he
published one while I was at Syracuse University, the one year he taught at
this upstate New York college, and I believe I even bought it. But it’s lost to
the years and a dozen or so moves.
“Three days I sat
Bewildered by love.
Three nights I watched
The gradations of dark.
Of light …”
Morning in Perugia by Jack Gilbert
What I remember most about him was that he was slight man,
white haired and in his sixties by the time I was his student. He was
passionate about the poetic line and about women, especially those he found himself with in places foreign
to him, a guy from Pittsburgh, and I find that these passions imbued in this
early set of poems.
“… When I got quiet
she’d put on usually Debussy
leaning down to the small ribs
Number Five: Against A New York Summer by Jack Gilbert
I think of him so young writing these poems, and want to cry
out, but instead I read on, gorging on the lines, ebullient with my find.