I very much appreciate your message and am glad that you care so much about El Salvador’s recent history.
When I first began writing “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador,” I wanted it to be historical fiction, but I had t w o very knowledgable people tell me not to write it that way. The first person (who recently passed away with cancer) told me that the story would be better told by moving events around in order to build tension. Karen Aschenbach had written screenplays and lived in Hollywood the last few years of her life. I am well aware that Hollywood doesn’t often tell the complete truth, but I am also hoping that this story will be made into a movie.
The other person who recommended I not call it (or make it) historical fiction is an author of historical fiction herself. She said historical fiction doesn’t sell except to a small group of people who care immensely about history. A few months after she gave me this advice, she pulled her books off the shelf to edit and make changes as some readers had found some errors in the work.
That was a wake-up call for me as I knew I wasn’t being meticulous about the history and especially the time-line.
For these reasons, I call the novel historically-based, rather than historical fiction.
I will make sure my publicist is aware of this so that we do not label this story inaccurately.
My sincere thanks for your compassion toward the Salvadoran cause. My Salvadoran friends and family are very grateful to you and all those who remind the world of this unjust US-funded war.
Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador: http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4y
Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too:
We grieve for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and James Scurlock — only the most recent and visible Black lives lost to violence, often at the hands of police. We stand in solidarity with protesters all over the world marching in their names. Both on and off the page, The Sun supports the cause of social justice. If you’re able, please consider joining us in contributing to those working to end systemic racism, inequality, and police brutality. A list of organizations we support is included in the full statement on our website.As an organization whose staff is predominantly white, especially one in a homogeneous publishing industry, we have much work to do. We are committed to understanding our privilege and overcoming our implicit biases, and we welcome feedback that makes us better allies to marginalized voices, particularly Black and brown ones.
We’ve gathered selections from The Sun’s archive that examine white supremacy, systemic racism, mass incarceration, police brutality, and other related issues. They are all freely available for anyone to read and share. We will highlight more from our archive in the coming days.
White supremacy is defending inherited privilege and resources and the ability to pass them on. Until you disrupt that, I don’t know that we can change the economic base of culture and community.”
Tressie McMillan Cottom
To Protect and to Serve? Alex S. Vitale on the Overpolicing of America by Mark Leviton | September 2019 “It’s a mistake to think of each episode of police misconduct as an isolated incident that might have gone another way if different officers had been involved. It’s not about individuals. The problem is a political imperative toward overpolicing.”
In our June 2020 interview, “The Power of Story,” Jared Seide discusses how listening to each other can restore our humanity. Seide, the executive director of Center for Council, often works with people in difficult settings — such as Hutus and Tutsis seeking restorative healing after the genocide in Rwanda, activists and police in California communities, and incarcerated people and correctional officers in state prisons. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he is finding ways for people to maintain meaningful connections in a time of social distancing. For readers interested in learning more, he offers this reading list of essential books on navigating vulnerability, working with compassion, and the power of listening from the heart.
Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet by Joan Halifax Halifax is a brilliant teacher who has written about cultivating compassion in great depth. This insightful book invites us to sit courageously with all that confronts us, and really discern how best to serve. I’ve found this to be a powerful and foundational practice.
The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace by John Paul Lederach Lederach writes about the need to envision a world where the well-being of our grandchildren is profoundly connected to the well-being of our adversaries’ grandchildren. He explores the notion of “critical yeast” — how small acts of compassion by a committed few can have enormous impact.
The prequel to SLIES titled “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” will be out in September. Shelly goes to New Orleans to prepare for going to ES, but when she encounters sexism, racism & illegal activities by government agents, she begins to question whether she is the right person for this opportunity.
But she asked me to post the original too. I’m not using my friend’s name because her husband works for the govt. She’s afraid of repercussions and in this time of Trump, that’s a very distinct possibility.
This…this is a daily must read – below are points to skim but highly recommend you read in entirety to understand full scope of all events ~~COVID19 numbers up, epidemiologists predict 5,000 to 6,000 Americans a week will die from the disease. ~ ~Trump campaign delivered a cease and desist letter to CNN demanding CNN retract and apologize for its poll showing Trump 14 points behind😂 ~~Judge John Gleeson accused Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department of “a gross abuse of prosecutorial power, attempting to provide special treatment to a favored friend and political ally of the President of the United States. It has treated the case like no other, and in doing so has undermined the public’s confidence in the rule of law.” (referencing Flynn who plead guilty as charged – -Yes, I’m guilty, I did that!) ~~1,250 former members of the DOJ asked IG, Michael Horowitz, to look into Barr’s involvement in last week’s attack on the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square before Trump’s walk to St. John’s. ~~Prominent military leaders opposed Trump’s use of force against demonstrators, supported protesters’ concerns, and pointedly defended the Constitution. Trump sided with white reactionaries rather than current military leaders.😲 ~~Retired Army General Petraeus, said, “The irony of training at bases named for those who took up arms against the United States, and for the right to enslave others, is inescapable to anyone paying attention.” Trump shocked with “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a… history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.” Trump’s base, is keen on Confederate imagery. Within hours, NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its races and its venues. ~~Trump was trying to figure out how to turn calls for racial justice into a fight over “LAW & ORDER” Tweet, tweet, tweet, GOP leaders were trying to figure out how to keep that shift from turning into offensive race baiting. ~~Moot point GOP. Trump announced first rally to be in Tulsa, Oklahoma—where coronavirus cases are spiking—on June 19.“Juneteenth,” a day commemorating the end of slavery in America. Tulsa is where the 1921 race massacre, in which white mobs destroyed the wealthy Black neighborhood of Greenwood (aided by firebombs dropped from private airplanes), murdered as many as 300 of their Black neighbors, injured hundreds more, and left 10,000 people homeless.
(My personal sidebar opinion- I am sure the confederate flags will be flying high at his first rally in celebration of Trump, the Imperial Lizard, upholding his loyal devotees common devotion to racism, inequality, hate, lies and oppression. This location and timing, clearly meant to race bait, leaves no doubt that this horrid man, like his father before him, is clearly a supporter/leader of the KKK, White Nationalist and Populist movement and is now flaunting his racism openly hoping to incite violence.
“We’ve made every decision correctly,” the president said Friday about the coronavirus, “and now the trajectory is great.”
In fact, our Covid-19 numbers are up. They had begun to level off as hard-hit New York brought its infections under control, but now other hotspots are emerging. Arizona, Florida, and Texas, along with fifteen other states, are seeing increases in Covid-19 cases. Already, more than 112,000 Americans have died and more than 1.9 million are infected, and from now until July 4, epidemiologists predict 5,000 to 6,000 Americans a week will die from the disease.
The pandemic was not on the president’s mind today.
Today the Trump campaign delivered a cease and desist letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker demanding that CNN retract and apologize for its recent poll showing Trump 14 points behind presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The letter says the poll is “designed to mislead American voters through a biased questionnaire and skewed sampling.”
This is clearly the work of Republican pollster John McLaughlin, whom Trump hired on Monday. McLaughlin’s career is based in the (false) concept that political polls showing Democrats ahead of Republicans are deliberately skewed toward Democrats in order to discourage Republicans from voting.
CNN’s lawyer responded to the letter by noting that this was the first time in its history that CNN had been threatened with legal action over a political poll, and that “to the extent we have received legal threats from political leaders in the past, they have typically come from countries like Venezuela or other regimes where there is little or no respect for a free and independent media.” He noted that McLaughlin had little credibility, and concluded: “Your letter is factually and legally baseless. It is yet another bad faith attempt by the campaign to threaten litigation to muzzle speech it does not want voters to read or hear. Your allegations and demands are rejected in their entirety.”
Virtually every reputable poll shows Biden leading Trump by double digits, so why is the Trump campaign picking this fight? The cease and desist letter might be a way to calm down the president, who is apparently on edge these days. But it might also be a way to try to rally the Republican base around the idea that, as recent fundraising has said, the “Trump Army” must fight off “the Liberal MOB.”
The campaign seems to be embracing military language as opposition to the president intensifies. Today the retired federal judge who was asked to examine the Justice Department’s unusual request to abandon the case against Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn– after Flynn had pleaded guilty– filed his report. Judge John Gleeson accused Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department of “a gross abuse of prosecutorial power, attempting to provide special treatment to a favored friend and political ally of the President of the United States. It has treated the case like no other, and in doing so has undermined the public’s confidence in the rule of law.”
More than 1,250 former members of the Department of Justice also wrote today of the need to defend the rule of law. They asked the DOJ’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, to look into Barr’s involvement in last week’s attack by law enforcement on the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square before Trump’s walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church.
A rift between the administration and the military became clear last week when prominent military leaders opposed Trump’s use of force against demonstrators, supported the protesters’ concerns, and pointedly defended the Constitution. Trump deliberately widened that rift today, siding with white reactionaries rather than with current military leaders.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both of whom had been caught in Trump’s walk across Lafayette Square, are eager to unify their troops, 43% of whom are people of color rapidly becoming disaffected. The idea of renaming Army bases named for Confederate generals has been on the table for awhile, and they talked of actually doing it in this tense moment, even as protesters and city officials are pulling down Confederate monuments.
To historians, this is a no-brainer. Confederate leaders tried to destroy the United States and succeeded in killing hundreds of thousands of Americans, so the idea that we have any federal recognition of them is wild. And they were fighting to enshrine human enslavement in the laws of a new nation, and from there to spread it across the world, so for a country founded on the idea of human equality to honor these men seems particularly self-defeating. As General David Petraeus, the retired Army commander in Iraq and Afghanistan said, “The irony of training at bases named for those who took up arms against the United States, and for the right to enslave others, is inescapable to anyone paying attention.”
Politico reported that the military leaders thought the idea was an obvious move, but Trump shocked them with a series of tweets saying “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a… history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom. The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations… Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!”
Trump was clearly siding with his base, which is quite keen on Confederate imagery, rather than with those calling for equal justice. But that base is apparently getting smaller. Within hours of his tweets, NASCAR had banned the Confederate flag from its races and its venues because it “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” NASCAR said.
The decision was announced before tonight’s race in Virginia, where Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only African American driver, was to compete in a Chevrolet with a #BlackLivesMatter paint job. Wallace, born in Alabama, had said there was no place for Confederate flags in the sport. Tonight he was wearing a black “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt, and applauded the decision. “This is no doubt the biggest race of my career tonight,” he said. “There’s a lot of emotions on the race track.”
Not everyone approved. Helmet artist Jason Beam tweeted: “ignorance wins again, NASCAR you realize the North had slaves too, lol not just the South, you want to remove the American Flag as well, idiots.”
It seems that the lines of Trump’s election campaign are solidifying. Two days ago, the Washington Post reported that Trump was trying to figure out how to turn calls for racial justice into a fight over “LAW & ORDER”– as he keeps tweeting– but Republican Party leaders were trying to figure out how to keep that shift from turning into offensive race baiting. Trump’s announcement today that he is resuming his rallies makes that point now appear moot.
The first rally will take place in Tulsa, Oklahoma—where coronavirus cases are spiking—on June 19. This day is also known as “Juneteenth,” a day commemorating the end of slavery in America because it was that day in 1865 that African Americans in Texas finally learned they were free. Tulsa is also the site of the 1921 race massacre, in which white mobs destroyed the wealthy Black neighborhood of Greenwood (aided by firebombs dropped from private airplanes), murdered as many as 300 of their Black neighbors, injured hundreds more, and left 10,000 people homeless.
Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador: http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4y
On this day 47 years ago at Kent State University in Ohio, four students were killed and nine others wounded when armed members of the National Guard opened fire on a crowd of protestors. The students had organized to protest President Richard Nixon’s announcement that the U.S. would invade Cambodia as part of the Vietnam War.
The Kent State shootings caused further protests nationwide, inspiring many young people to get involved in activism. The incident became a benchmark in American history that brought young people to action and launched a generation into activism. Here are a few things you should know about the incident.
Protests had been going on for a few days.
A chronology of the week’s events from the Kent State University library details the confusion both on campus and in the city of Kent just before the incident. President Nixon made his announcement about the “Cambodian Incursion” on April 30. Students rallied on May 1 and planned another rally for May 4. The evening of May 1, vandals damaged buildings in town, breaking windows. According to the [library chronology], the mayor of Kent “heard rumors of a radical plot, declared a state of emergency, and telephoned the governor in Columbus for assistance.” Bars were closed, and those in the street were tear-gassed by riot police. On May 2, the mayor made the decision to call in the National Guard after hearing about threats to local businesses and rumors of radical protestors trying to destroy the city. That evening, there was a large demonstration happening on campus, and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) building was set on fire. Another demonstration on campus occurred on May 3, where tear gas was fired. And the protesting continued on May 4, resulting in deadly violence.
It’s not totally clear why the guardsmen opened fire in the first place.
The students protesting were unarmed, but 28 guardsmen opened fire on the crowd. They fired between 61 and 67 shots in just 13 seconds.
Two of the students killed were protesting, and two were bystanders who were walking from one class to the next.
The victims were all white. They were Jeffrey Miller and Sandra Scheuer, both 20, and Allison Krause and William Schroeder, both 19.
The shootings caused even more protests.
NPR reported that colleges and universities across the U.S. were forced to close when the shootings triggered a nationwide student strike. Historians estimate that about 4 million students went on strike, causing 800 institutions to close.
And tragically, students at another university were shot and killed just days later.
On May 15, 1970, police confronted a group of African-American students protesting at Jackson State College (now Jackson State University) in Jackson, Mississippi. Apparently, students had been throwing rocks at white motorists driving through campus, and tension heightened when a false rumor spread that a local politician and civil rights activist, Charles Evers, had been killed. Police fired more than 150 rounds into the crowd, killing 21-year-old Phillip Gibbs and 17-year-old James Earl Green. Twelve other students were injured.
People credit the Kent State shootings with waking them up, in the same way police violence sparks protests and rallies today.
“Up until that incident, I had been a pretty conventional young person,” one woman told NPR. “I was 20. But when I saw my government killing innocent students who were just walking to class, I was radicalized, totally radicalized. From that day forward, I began to immerse myself in national and international news and politics and have never since allowed myself to be so ignorant of what’s going on as I was before that day.”
4 Ways Writing Improves Your Relationship With Yourself
Writing—especially the writing of stories—is ultimately a relationship with oneself. It is true that we write to communicate with others. Perhaps that is even the foremost conscious motivation sometimes. But communication itself necessitates a relationship, and what we are trying to communicate is ourselves—that unfolding inner dialogue between the Self and the self, the observer and the observed, the unconscious and the conscious, the Muse and the Recorder.
You must have a relationship with your stories before your readers can, and really this is a relationship with yourself. In recognizing this, writing becomes both an investigative tool for getting to know yourself better and a vast playground for exploration and experimentation on a deeply personal level. Depth psychologist Jean Shinoda Bolen points out:
Creative work comes out of an intense and passionate involvement—almost as if with a lover, as one (the artist) interacts with the “other” to bring something new into being. This “other” may be a painting, a dance form, a musical composition, a sculpture, a poem or a manuscript, a new theory or invention, that for a time is all-absorbing and fascinating.
Particularly in this ongoing period of quarantine and isolation, it can be a tremendously rewarding process to use writing to improve your relationship with yourself. Whether you live alone right now or in a crowded house, the one person you cannot escape, the one person who will always be there for you, is you.
Too often, I think we underestimate this person and our relationship with him or her. We’d rather distract ourselves or hang with someone else because limiting beliefs lead us to think this most intimate of all relationships is too flawed, too painful, too shallow. Isn’t this why writing sometimes scares us so badly we can barely sit at the computer? It is also, I believe, why most of us come to the page in the first place: this person within has something to say and so long as this communication comes out in the form of fun and colorful stories, we are willing to sit still and listen in ways we are rarely willing to offer during the rest of life.
The more we learn to listen to the self that appears on the page, the more we will become conscious of the things we are truly desiring to communicate—both to ourselves and eventually to readers. Writing becomes not just distraction, entertainment, or vocation—it becomes an ever-deepening relationship with life itself.
4 Ways Writing Improves Your Relationship With Yourself
Today, I want to talk about several ways in which our writing reveals itself as a relationship with ourselves—and how we can embrace and deepen our approaches to this magnificent form of self-exploration and self-expression.
1. Dreams, the Shadow, and the Unconscious
How can one not dream while writing? It is the pen which dreams. The blank page gives the right to dream.–Gaston Bachelard
I don’t know about you, but my actual night dreams are all but useless as story material. They’re an evocative smear of rehashed memories and crazy symbolism. My dream journal, although sometimes revealing, is usually more amusing than anything. More easily interpreted are the revelations I discover in my stories. Even more than my actual writing, my ability to consciously enter what I (and Robert Olen Butler) call the “dreamzone” is a mainline to my unconscious.
Your stories are “out loud” dreams. Even though you may exercise nominal control over their subject and direction, the best of them are effortless blasts of imagery and feeling straight up from your depths. Once your body of work is large enough for you to start recognizing patterns and cross-referencing them with the happenings of your own life, you will be able to mine your stories for some of your inner self’s deepest treasures.
It surprises me that more depth psychologists don’t reference and analyze stories in the same way they do dreams. Although I have always known my stories must offer an unwitting commentary about myself, it wasn’t until the last few years that I began to be able to recognize some unintended, occasionally even prescient, parallels between the things I was writing at a given time and the things that were either happening or about to happen in my own life.
More than that, your stories, your characters, and the scenarios and themes you write about are often revelations of the hidden parts of you—your shadow self, or the aspects of your personality you have not yet made conscious. Hidden emotions, desires, and even memories can surface in our writing, there for us to recognize if only we look. Some of our discoveries will be glorious and magical; others will be difficult and painful. But all are instructive.
2. Personal Archetypes and Symbols
Archetypal stories and characters—those that offer universal symbolism—resonate with people everywhere. Whenever you hear of a particularly popular story, you can be pretty sure the reason for its prevalent and enduring success is its archetypal underpinnings. This is a vastly useful bit of information if you want to write a successful story of your own. But it is also useful because an understanding of archetypes and symbolism can offer you a guide to translating you own inner hieroglyphs.
Consider your characters. What types of characters consistently appear in your stories? These are likely archetypes that are deeply personal to, representative of, and perhaps even transformative for you. Just as in dream analysis, it is useful to remember that every character is you. The wounded warrior, the damsel in distress, the sadistic villain—each represents a facet of yourpsychological landscape.
I’ve long thought we all have just one story to tell which we go on telling over and over in different ways. I’ve also heard it said that all authors have roughly a dozen actors in their playhouse—and we just keep recasting them in new stories. There’s truth to this. Certainly, I can recognize decided archetypes that perennially fascinate me however I try to dress them up in unique costumes from story to story.
As these patterns emerge over time, I get better at recognizing what they represent. Sometimes I am almost embarrassed to realize how much of myself I have bled onto the pages of my novels—secrets so intimate even Ididn’t know them at the time I wrote them. Chuck Palahniuk observes aptly:
The act of writing is a way of tricking yourself into revealing something that you would never consciously put into the world. Sometimes I’m shocked by the deeply personal things I’ve put into books without realizing it.
Learning to speak the language of archetype and symbol can grant you tremendously exciting perception into your inner self. Stories that you loved when you wrote them, that meant one precious thing to you at the time of creation, can come to offer all new treasures even years after your first interactions with them.
3. Emotional and Hypothetical Exploration
Writing is also, always and ever, a conscious dialogue with ourselves. We put something onto the page; the page—that is to say, ourselves—responds. And the conversation takes off! Jean Shinoda Bolen again:
The “relationship” dialogue is then between the person and the work, from which something new emerges. For example, observe the process when a painter is engaged with paint and canvas. An absorbed interchange occurs: the artist reacts or is receptive to the creative accidents of paint and brush; she initiates actively with bold stroke, nuance, and color; and then, seeing what happens, she responds. It is an interaction; spontaneity combines with skill. It is an interplay between artist and canvas, and as a result something is created that never before existed.
Although we may not be fully conscious of everything we’re saying about ourselves when we first put a story to words, we almost always begin with some conscious intent. We are writing to experience something—perhaps something we’ve already experienced and want to recreate or relive, or perhaps something hypothetical that we wish to experiment with in a simulated way.
Even outrageous story events, such as fantasy battles or melodramatic love scenes, which we know are impossible or unlikely in reality, can still offer us the ability to symbolically create and process our own emotions. When we are angry, we often write scenes of passionate intensity. When we are stressed, we sometimes write horrifying but cathartic scenes or perhaps loving and comforting scenes.
Sometimes emotion pours out in ways that shock us, and when it does we have the opportunity to follow up and seek the root of something true and honest within ourselves that we perhaps have not fully acknowledged.
It is as if we say to the page: “Joy.” And a scene comes pouring out of us and shows a vivid dreamscape of what joy means to us. Or perhaps we simply wish to present a functional scene in which characters act out gratitude, trauma, love, or grief—and what we discover is our own sometimes stunning emotional response. We speak—and the page speaks back.
4. Logical and Creative Dialogues
I’ve always liked the idea of a dialogue between the left or logical brain and the right or creative brain. Both logic and creativity are wonderful in their unique ways, and both are intrinsic to a full realization of each other.
In order to appreciate and cultivate a relationship with both these aspects, we must make sure they respect each other enough to carry on a balanced back-and-forth conversation. This can happen moment by moment when we’re in the throes of writing—our creative minds manifesting ideas and our logical minds putting those ideas to words. But it can also be looked at as a larger dialogue in which different parts of the writing process become the domain of one half of the brain or the other.
Understanding how we interact with these two vital halves of personality gives us an edge in honing all parts of our writing. Likewise, in honing our writing, we are given the opportunity to shape these two opposing aspects of ourselves. Very often, one or the other is undervalued or underdeveloped. In learning to respect and appreciate both—and to give both room to properly do their jobs, while maintaining communication with one another—we can refine their presence in our larger lives.
In so many ways, writing is the study of the soul. Stories allow us to study the collective soul of humanity. But ourstories particularly allow us to study our own souls, to suss out their treasures, relieve their wounds, celebrate their uniqueness, and share their common features.
Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! How do you think your writing improves your relationship with yourself? Tell me in the comments!
Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador: