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Q & A with Author Sherrie Miranda and Susan J. Farese, SJF Communications

Guest blog Q & A with Sherrie Miranda, Author

by Susan J. Farese, SJF Communications

SJF Communications is thrilled to introduce our PR client, Author Sherrie Miranda. Sherrie recently released her novel Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans: Shelly’s Journey Begins which is the prequel to her 2015 debut novel Secrets and Lies in El Salvador: Shelly’s Journey.

Here is a bit of information about both books (along with a holiday discount on eBooks for both) followed by our Q & A.

Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans is author Sherrie Miranda’s prequel to her page-turner, debut thriller, Secrets and Lies in El Salvador.

Shelly Dalton Smith is a naïve, twenty-three-year-old from Upstate New York who moves to New Orleans in 1980 to prepare for a photo project in war-torn El Salvador.

Shelly arrives in New Orleans, broken and traumatized and therefore unable to trust her own instincts. New Orleans represents the fresh start Shelly needs, but she soon finds that almost everyone in New Orleans harbors a secret. She’s unprepared for life in “The Big Easy,” and her world is turned upside down as she navigates “the city that care forgot.”

With fast-paced chapters and beautifully detailed conversations and descriptions, we see New Orleans through Shelly’s innocent eyes as she realizes the sheltered life she had lived was a lie. She experiences sexism and witnesses racism, police brutality, FBI visits, death threats, and two people’s captivity by her former boss.

Through her misadventures and exciting plot twists, Shelly focuses on fighting injustice, ultimately finding her authentic voice as an empowered adult. When she finally leaves New Orleans, she is forever changed. The novel is a wild ride through the underbelly of 1980s New Orleans and is filled with quirky characters, sinister abusers, and thrilling secrets and revelations.

Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans (CIINO)

#CIINO Trailer!: https://youtu.be/7_NL-V9KEi4

Available on Amazon:

Paperback:https://www.amzn.com/dp/B08KMHNNDK

Kindle eBook: https://www.amzn.com/dp/B08K8MMCMJ
($0.99 Holiday Discount)!

Available on Barnes and Noble

Paperback: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/9781663580016

Nook:   https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940162963127

Secrets and Lies in El Salvador (2015 sequel to Sherrie Miranda’s Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans) is the story of an American woman in war-torn El Salvador. It exposes death and destruction at every turn, but also validates the power of love, and embodies the gift of hope.

In a conscious effort to heal from recent trauma and her mother’s lies about her closest relations, Shelly Dalton Smith travels to war-torn El Salvador. Unwittingly used by someone she trusts to implement a mission too dangerous for anyone to complete, she captures shots of her host family, and listens to their secrets and lies, which reveal her mother’s deception is not so different from that of others, including her own.

Witnessing the death of an American journalist and listening to harrowing accounts of refugees who watched the massacre of their families, tears Shelly apart. So she turns to an American fighting with the guerrillas. He teaches her a passion for living she has never known. When he dies in combat, Shelly can no longer bear the pain, and wonders whether it is possible to accomplish her mission.

Secrets and Lies in El Salvador (SLIES)

Available on Amazon:

Paperbackhttps://amzn.com/dp/1507837011

Kindle eBook: https://amzn.com/dp/B00T6EI1UW
($0.99 Holiday Discount)!

Available on Barnes and Noble:

Paperbackhttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/9781507837016

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940046559002

Q & A:

Sherrie Miranda, Author

and

Susan J. Farese, SJF Communications

Sherrie Miranda, Author and Susan J Farese, SJF Communications; Photo Credit: Angelo Miranda

SJF: Why/How did you decide to write Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans?

SM: I always knew I wanted to write this story, but I also knew it would be difficult because I lived in NOLA for 7 years. I could not put everything I wanted in it, but I knew it was an important and timely story. So, I got the support I needed to help me figure out what the story would look like.

SJF: Did you make any personal discoveries (or aha! moments) while researching the book? If so, please explain.

SM: I didn’t really research except for a training on police forensics that I never actually used.

SJF: How did you decide on the title #CIINO and decide to self-publish?? 

SM: I decided the title early on to help me focus on that part of the story.

Self-publishing was the only option for me. I sent out about 35 queries for my debut novel and I got one response. I realized that even if I got an agent, that did not guarantee a publisher & I was noticing that people were waiting years to get published if ever.

SJF: Tell us about your background that led to you writing the book.

Author Sherrie Miranda; Photo credit: Tony Alcaraz

SM: Most of what happens in the story actually happened to me or to my friends. The book is about a time in this country and New Orleans, in particular, when we were trying to stop the slaughter of innocent people in El Salvador. But, our government had us labeled as the bad guys. They wanted to shut us up & shut us down. It is not unlike what’s been happening these last four years.

SJF: Did you take any writing classes or utilize other resources for writers?

SM: Marni Freedman was an amazing help to me. When I finally figured out she was local, I did a coaching session with her. I had been stuck for a long time, but she helped me figure out the shape of my story and what it needed to work. I took her memoir certification class and things finally started falling into place. I also got editing help from Tracy J Jones, Marni’s best friend and her editor and co-chair of her memoir course. Marni and Tracy are supportive in ways few instructors are. They are very careful not to break your spirit. They come from a place of pure love. If it weren’t for these two women, I believe I’d still be stuck!

SJF: Can you give us information on your background in teaching – Subjects? Creative writing/ESL etc.?

SM: Although I taught Art, Health, English Literature and even History, I loved teaching ESL. It was a privilege to have students from all over the world and to be their introduction to this country. I learned so much from these young people and they inspired me to tell my story.

SJF: Tell us about your upbringing, geographically, personally etc.

SM: I was born in Pennsylvania, in hunting & fishing territory. Fortunately my parents moved us to Upstate NY so I could start school there. The area I was from in PA was economically depressed & I am grateful we got out of there because it taught me to dare to go out in the world & try new things.

SJF: If you had to write the book(s) over again, would you change anything?

SM: No, I wouldn’t change much. It took me 5 years to write this 2nd novel & I got a lot of support & suggestions from fellow authors. The book is exactly what I want it to be.

SJF: If you had to interview your character Shelly in CIINO, what would you ask her?

SM: I would ask her: how did you change from before you went to New Orleans to when you left?

SJF: Please explain, in first person now, Sherrie…this is interesting!

SM: I didn’t realize how big an issue sexism is in this country & in the world. I didn’t know that 1 in 4 women get raped or molested in their lifetime. Also 1 in 5 males are raped or molested. New Orleans forced me to look at the hard reality – #MeToo

I didn’t know the depth of racism in this country. Nor did I realize how it permeates every part of the lives of people of color. Knowing the experiences of POC changed me forever. #BlackLivesMatter

SJF: A brief history of your education, positions/teaching appointments published articles, etc.

SM: I studied Art, then Photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), but I was on academic probation, mainly because I kept asking professors to let me do a photo project, but being on a trimester schedule did not allow me the time to go back & finish another class when I had a full load each semester.

In New Orleans, I finally got back in school, but it took another four years to finish because my transfer courses did not count the full 3 units. Also, again, I studied Art, then pre-nursing, then finally switched to Drama & Communications.

I was a much better student at University of New Orleans (UNO) so I was able to pull my GPA up to a 3.4. I was friends with professors at UNO, whereas at RIT, the professors were not friendly toward me.

I also received my teaching credential through SDSU and my MFA in Creative Writing from National University (with a 4.0 GPA)!

SJF: What are your personal pastimes/hobbies/interests/passions?

SM: I love to garden. It’s kind of addicting. Sometimes I lose several hours when I get out there & play in the dirt. Also, we have a historical home, so we love to shop for art & furniture from the 1930s when our home was built.

I love movies and good TV shows, and reading, of course. I love a good story that is well developed.

I also love to travel. Angelo and I mostly travel in the U.S., but I’ve been to several European countries and a few Latin Countries. I hope to figure out how to incorporate those trips into my writing eventually.

SJF: Anything you would like to mention about Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans (#CIINO) and Secrets and Lies in El Salvador (#SLIES)?

SM: There are stories that come from my heart. The people of New Orleans are very unique and memorable. Salvadorans are the most generous people as a group that I’ve ever met despite decades of the government & landowners fighting its own people. Also, my husband wrote the music for the trailers. Angelo is a musician in two local bands:: Local Upfront, 70-80 cover songs, and the South Bay Band, a jam band.

SJF: Where can we find you on the web? Website, social media etc.

SM: Oh, I’m all over the internet. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedInGoodreads and thanks to you, I finally figured out Instagram. I also have a WordPress blog and am hoping to have you design a website for me soon.

SJF: How have you been coping with life since Covid-19? Any stress management tools? 

Author Sherrie Miranda and Angelo Miranda; Photo credit: Susan J. Farese, SJF Communications

SM: Mostly, it’s been good for me. I had an excuse to stay home & finish CIINO. Angelo had a few outside music gigs so that helped ease the loneliness. Plus, I have a couple of friends who have been mostly isolated so we were able to do a few get togethers with them.

But, I have to admit it’s starting to get to me now. Plus, I’ve been staying up too late & sleeping late. If I ever get back to subbing, I’m going to be in trouble trying to get up at 6 a.m.

SJF: How has the Covid-19 affected you personally/professionally?

SM: I’ve come to realize that I’m an introvert so it’s been easier on me than most people. Also, since I haven’t been around a lot of people (esp. teens), I’ve managed to stay healthy for more than a year. 

Professionally, though, I would have gone to the La Jolla Writer’s Conference & probably done some events at several bookstores so that’s been difficult. But people have more time to read so I’ve seen a lot more interest in this book because of having an online presence.

SJF: Role models or persons that inspire you in your life?

SM: First, my dad, was always an inspiration because he believed in me. The rest of my family doesn’t feel the same about him. I guess I was a Daddy’s girl like my mom always said.

There have been women who have inspired me most of my life. Some I knew, like my Spanish professor who is now writing books too. And some I didn’t know, like Susan Meiselas whose photography in Central America inspired me to be an anti-war activist, and Carolina Forché, who showed me the power of writer as witness to atrocities and injustice. 

SJF: What are you working on next? Another sequel?

SM: Yes, When Shelly comes back from El Salvador with her husband (and pregnant)! She’s going to have a blond haired, blue-eyed baby that is obviously not Juan Jr.’s! I’m not really working on it right now. Just in my head. I need to work with Marni before I start writing. She believes in having a firm plan before starting to write. Otherwise you risk getting stuck in the middle & maybe never finishing. Since this happened to me both times, I’m going to follow her advice.

SJF: Favorite quotes?

SM: “I don’t like to write; I love having written.” Dorothy Parker

“You simply sit down to a typewriter, open your veins and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway

“The lesson will be repeated until it is learned.” Buddha

SJF: Who (celebrity)  would you like to have lunch or dinner with to discuss your book?

SM: Martin Sheen. I sent him a copy of SLIES and he sent me a thank you card. I wish I had heard from him after he read it. I’m going to send CIINO to him too.

SJF:  Life hurdles? Successes?

SM: I was always going two steps forward, one step back. I was a country girl trying to be a city girl. I was never prepared for what I was trying to do. In the end though, that has made me a better writer so it all happened for a reason.

SJF: Three significant/pivotal moments in your life?

Divorcing my first husband and starting college.

Traveling around Europe (several times)

Moving to LA – that was hard too, but I learned a lot there. It’s where I became spiritual, after 9/11.

SJF: Fears?

SM: Oh, I’m filled with fears. But I just decide to go ahead & try it anyway.

SJF: Recurring dreams/ Usual dreams?

SM: When I was a kid, I dreamed my family and I traveled to other planets. I often dream I’ve got an out of control classroom of students. 

SJF:  Strongest asset? What would you like to work on/improve?

SM: I think my openess has allowed me to have experiences that most Americans don’t ever get to have. I need to work on being fearless and I really need to stop procrastinating. I also need to stop spending so much time on the internet. It’s the worst addiction there is. 

SJF: Where/How do you ‘give back’ to your community/communities?

SM: Teaching has been very rewarding in that respect. Before I became a teacher, I was an antiwar activist and I continue to try to raise awareness on political issues that are important to me.

I also worked with the homeless when I first moved to San Diego.

SJF: Any regrets in life?

SM: I don’t really believe in regrets. I never had a child, but I have had many loving people in my life. I believe “Everything happens for a reason.” If I had had a child, I wouldn’t have been able to travel and wouldn’t have ended up in a place where I could marry my husband.

I put myself through a lot of unnecessary difficulties with men mostly, but I finally know who I am and what I want so it all worked out in the end.

SJF: What qualities should the younger generations aspire to that you think are important in this day and age?

SM: Young people are more aware of the dire issues that face us. I trust that they will make the world a better place, a more fair & equal place.

SJF: Funny/humorous (appropriate) stories?

SM: Oh, when I went to RIT in my mid-twenties, I had a really hard time with this one professor’s class. When I asked him for help, he said I didn’t belong in his class. But when I tried to drop the class, he insisted I see the school psychologist first. The psychologist thought it was the professor who had a problem, not me. But, I just told the professor that yes, I had seen the psychologist. He finally signed off on me dropping his class.

SJF: How do you handle loss?

SM: Better than I thought I would. My mom’s death was heartbreaking. I felt I could have been a better daughter (though she insisted I was a perfect child!). I cried for weeks when she died. But I got messages from her.

My dad was the guy I worried about dying since I was 13 years old. I think I must have sensed that something was wrong. So many times I cried about him dying someday, but when the day finally came, I just felt relief that he was out of the miserable situation he ended up in.

SJF: Where have you traveled and where would you like to travel once Covid-19 is OVER??? 

SM: I’ve traveled a lot. First Europe, then El Salvador, Cuba, Brazil. Then West coast, including Canada & Mexico. Then East coast, including Montreal.

But I want to visit Pittsburgh and Philly and the New England states. I also want to see more of Europe, especially Ireland, Wales & Scotland.

I would travel more, but Angelo (my husband) doesn’t like to be away from his pianos.

SJF: Thank you very much Sherrie, and best wishes with your writing and looking forward to reading more of your upcoming books!

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A Letter Explaining the Reason Behind the Choice of Writing “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” as Historically-Based, Rather than Historical Fiction

romero-267x300
Mr. Lamperti,
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
sherriemiranda1@aol.com

A Mourner Remembers Archbishop Romero
A Mourner Remembers Archbishop Romero

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:

“Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” Kindle Sale Extended! Read CIINO first, then SLIES!

“Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” follows the dramatic story of naive, sheltered Shelly going to “The Big Easy” to prepare for El Salvador, but has no idea she will encounter sexism and witness racism as well as illegal activities by government agents.
https://www.amzn.com/dp/B08KMHNNDK

Author, Sherrie Miranda’s husband made the trailer for “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans.” He wrote the music too. https://youtu.be/7_NL-V9KEi4

Review: Shelly’s journey in “the city that care forgot.”Sherrie Miranda’s new novel “Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans” puts the reader into a whirlwind of political protests, abusive police, sexist attitudes towards women, and “good old boys” racism in 1980’s New Orleans. Miranda’s second novel follows Shelly, the young northerner, as she quickly finds out that she “isn’t in Kansas anymore” while encountering a slew of picturesque, colorful characters. Reading her book makes you wonder if justice and respect for blacks, immigrants, and women can be reality in America.

“Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” Kindle Sale Extended! Read CIINO first, then SLIES!

slies.redo2.1.2.2021.png
Sherrie Miranda’s debut novel SLIES is the sequel to her newest novel CIINO.

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:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P11Ch5chkAc

“Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” follows the dramatic story of naive, sheltered Shelly going to “The Big Easy” to prepare for El Salvador, but has no idea she will encounter sexism and witness racism as well as illegal activities by government agents.https://www.amzn.com/dp/B08KMHNNDK

Welcome to 2021.

My sentiments as well. Hoping book 3 is out in 2 years or less!
Peace, love & justice for all,
“Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” follows the dramatic story of naive, sheltered Shelly going to “The Big Easy” to prepare for El Salvador, but has no idea she will encounter sexism and witness racism as well as illegal activities by government agents.
https://www.amzn.com/dp/B08KMHNNDK
Author, Sherrie Miranda’s husband made the trailer for “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans.” He wrote the music too.
https://youtu.be/7_NL-V9KEi4
Review: Shelly’s journey in “the city that care forgot.”
Sherrie Miranda’s new novel “Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans” puts the reader into a whirlwind of political protests, abusive police, sexist attitudes towards women, and “good old boys” racism in 1980’s New Orleans. Miranda’s second novel follows Shelly, the young northerner, as she quickly finds out that she “isn’t in Kansas anymore” while encountering a slew of picturesque, colorful characters. Reading her book makes you wonder if justice and respect for blacks, immigrants, and women can be reality in America.

Stuart Aken

A new start. New chances. New hopes. New dreams to fulfil. Positivity. Optimism. Let’s Do It!

It’s gone at last, that dreadful year that was 2020. Gone, finished, done with. Over.

We can begin anew. So, what do you have to look forward to? What’s on your creative, personal, social horizon?

For me on the creative side a new novel to be finished in conjunction with my publisher and his team. A serious intention to write and submit more short stories to journals and contests. A determination to add to my growing gallery of professional photographs. A hope of returning to drawing and painting, so long neglected. A wish to read more. I managed to read and review 30 books last year. It would be good to do more.

On the personal/social side, a hope to be soon in the queue for the vaccine, so I can escape the concern…

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Saturday Surprise — Let It Snow!

We never get snow here, so I can enjoy these from a distance!
Wishing you all a better 2021!

“Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” follows the dramatic story of naive, sheltered Shelly going to “The Big Easy” to prepare for El Salvador, but has no idea she will encounter sexism and witness racism as well as illegal activities by government agents.                                       https://www.amzn.com/dp/B08KMHNNDK

Author, Sherrie Miranda’s husband made the trailer for “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans.” He wrote the music too. 
Sherrie Miranda’s new novel “Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans” puts the reader into a whirlwind of political protests, abusive police, sexist attitudes towards women, and “good old boys” racism in 1980’s New Orleans. Miranda’s second novel follows Shelly, the young northerner, as she quickly finds out that she “isn’t in Kansas anymore” while encountering a slew of picturesque, colorful characters. Reading her book makes you wonder if justice and respect for blacks, immigrants, and women can be reality in America.

Filosofa's Word

So, did you guys have a white Christmas? We did … sort of. It started snowing on Thursday evening, was still snowing on Friday morning, but the temps were so frigid that it was a very dry snow with little accumulation … maybe a ¼ inch. Still, it was snow, and we enjoyed seeing it, though we did not enjoy the 13° temperatures! Brrrrrrrrrr.

Now you’ve all heard it said that no two snowflakes are alike, but with bazillions of snowflakes falling somewhere on the globe every day for centuries or longer, how can that be true? Well, turns out that scientists who study such things say that the likelihood of two large snow crystals being identical is zero, and that the probability that two snow crystals (a single ice crystal) or flakes (a snow crystal or multiple snow crystals stuck together) will be exactly alike in molecular structure and…

View original post 336 more words

Brittany’s Best Christmas Lights

Wow! This is amazing 😉!

Bonjour From Brittany

With Christmas fast approaching, towns and villages across Brittany have bedecked themselves with some glorious festive illuminations. Unfortunately, travel restrictions imposed as part of the measures to limit the spread of covid-19 have meant that is has been impossible to see this year’s displays, so, this post must necessarily highlight a few memories of Christmas past.

Most municipal Christmas lights here were lit on the last Friday in November and will run until the third of January. Limits on public gatherings have, this year, seen the cancellation of the Christmas markets, parades, funfairs and outdoor ice rinks that usually form an integral part of the festive experience in many Breton towns. Some of the finest seasonal outings in Brittany were featured in a previous post, so, this one will focus on a few places that were visited after that post was written.

The medieval hearts of the Breton towns…

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Christmas 2020.

I beg to differ. Trump & his cronies were already moving their money to stocks that would make them rich during a pandemic. It’s just “we the people” that had no idea of the sh*tstorm that was headed our way!

lemanshots - Fine Pictures and Digital Art

Dear Friends,

an extraordinary year, which was very challenging for many of us, is drawing to a close.

What a crazy year it has been!

On last New Year’s Eve, no one could have imagined the challenges we would face in 2020. It has demanded a great deal from all of us.

Now Christmas season is here and I wish you that you can take time for a little contemplation during the coming holidays, get away from everyday life and experience joyful and happy hours with the people who are close to you.

For the next year I wish you health, luck and success! Live your dreams, believe in yourself, have fun and do all things with love.

Thanks for all kind support and positive feedback and hope to see you again in January!

Take care

Josephine.


Image and text by Josephine R. Unglaub.

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Henri Jourdain Critiques My Novel “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans”!

Having grown-up in a working class background, Sherrie Miranda critically understands that experience, thus making it the background from which emerges Shelly. She is the main character of Miranda’s  last novel, Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans. There, we follow Shelly – freshly arrived in New Orleans from Rochester.  She has come with the prospect of being awarded a photographer’s post in civil war torn El Salvador. Another reason for the move is Shelley’s desire to distance herself from family and home. This new found freedom allows Shelly to discover new inner voices as her life unfolds on many fronts. This process will be present throughout the novel. We find coherence to these multiple selves as we further our reading.

The coveted award is not certain, our main character will be competing with other photographers – if successful, Shelly will direct her camera lens to witness the life of the people in the midst of El Salvador’s civil war.  At some point in the story we are made aware that in her study of photography, she learned how to achieve balance in a picture with positive and negative space. A definition of the latter concept helped this writer appreciate how its application educates the reading of the novel: 

Space, both positive and negative, ties your design together. The intelligent usage of space draws the eye away from focus on negative or positive, and instead uses both to tell a harmonious, coherent, complete — seamless — story.

Transposed to the novel, this insight applies to the characters as well as events – the negative space, together with the narrative – the positive space, produce a coherent story. Miranda, herself a photographer, rendered inherent all these elements in her novel.

The story would not be as enticing if the author’s expert knowledge of the circumstances she brings forth in the novel would not inform the reader with historical elements – the FBI and other secret services’  undermining of the revolutionary movements in Central America. During the 1980’s, the time during which these wars were fought, the US was training paramilitary groups in support of campaigns of terror exacted on the civilian population. These facts brought to the page as textbook lessons might have been tedious. However, Miranda weaves the necessary background details in and out of the dialogue and stirs the latter with such virtuosity, that it lends to the issues an immediate relevance and urgency. Not only does it add a formidable dynamic to the novel, it also keeps the reader on their toes. 

 The story engages the reader in a deconstruction of the events and their impact on her main character. Based on historical events, the novel’s narrative weaves in its fabric, documentary facts which impart the story with veracity and a legitimate socio/political reality. Historical facts invite the reader’s imagination to an analytical inquiry, which is not defused by the fantasy of fiction.

Sherrie Miranda’s talent is best illustrated with her mastery of the dialogue. Throughout the novel many voices converse, and sometimes confront each other, or themselves. The reader is allowed to enter Shelly’s mind, revealing her most intimate thoughts. Shelly never leaves us; she stays faithful to her readers as she never speaks to others without letting us know what she thinks. We grow intimate with her; becoming her confident.  As we pursue our reading we are made to listen to the subscript – her inner thoughts.

It is important to remark that Shelly does not address the reader as if making a confession. In keeping us so close, we become witnesses in her life. Early in the novel we learn of Shelly’s rape. The event as recalled by the protagonist is brought about devoid of gravity. The details coming through later on, reveal the violence of the assault; we are left to infer its consequential traumas. And if we do not, further scenes in the novel reveal the rage it has caused Shelly. A rage which fuels her uncompromising resistance to oppression. 

The rape happened, and nothing since then has been the same. A baggage, which together with many other unresolved issues, weighs since then more heavily, on the already anxious life prodding the character of Shelly. Its reference throughout the novel reveals the guilt, the shame, and the self-accusatory statements; none of those are an expression of Shelly’s inability to process “the rape,” her voice only amplifies that of a whole society in denial of its own responsibility. For Shelly this social mass includes her family. She remains the only one – in not abandoning herself, she keeps vigil over her own body. Thus awakened nights – unable to sleep. We come to be educated little at a time about the indelible marks it leaves on the victim. It’s a garment on Shelly’s skin – the one she should have worn or should not have worn; “I should have worn pants.” I didn’t wear a slip.

We, the readers, are at Shelly’s sides when she refuses to wear a skirt to better fit the image of a waitress – the men wear the pants.And we know; she was wearing a dress when she got raped. Though she blames herself for it, I shouldn’t have worn a dress, her consciousness has grown in knowing what the skirt portrays in the stereotype apparel making of a “girl.” Shelly’s reflections, those she addresses to the reader, buttress her self-awareness, and ours. 

However earlier in the novel, the reader is faced with a moral conundrum, Shelly doubles down in accusing herself. “I blame myself. But maybe it’s what I needed…. to get me to move my lazy ass out of this place.” Because we want to read the contrary, and the contrary might be what the author wanted us to read on our parkour through her novel. The agency Shelly has mustered to start this journey was a motivator to a new way of acting. The sequence is reversed. As in a literal revolution. Dreaming a path to a new life is what motivates Shelly to rebel and subvert authority. She will not give her authorization to the wearing of a skirt. Not a victim of forces beyond her control. Now bringing the force under her control. Miranda however is a writer – her pen is not didactic. No explanation is needed. The reader is given a free rein to draw their own perspective. 

Miranda brings to bear her experience in growing up, and the working class values she was bound to honor. Those are put to the test as Shelly affronts the hardship of looking for a job with resilience, and wisdom. She will not compromise her dignity, as she will mount a tremendous amount of resistance at the threat to the latter. She loses her job, ready to sacrifice her means of subsistence to save her pride. Her life so far has been tough, she might not have as yet worn their badge, but she is no debutante on that new stage as a revolutionary actor. Yet at times her working class background reveals a rigidity which righteousness puts her at odds with what she is made to hear. Victor with whom Shelly develops an ambiguous relationship at some point exclaims, “We, Central Americans are all liars, I am a liar” “the war, the poverty, and the repression, we have to lie. All the time.” Paradoxically, later on that evening she will find solace in the same roots, those attachments  between labor and land – her family history. She turns to what she learned at home remembering stories she heard from her dad, “…how his mom would tell “stories” to the bill collector” so they would not lose their farm.

What makes the novel stand apart from vulgar fiction is not only that the author’s experience which serves the rendering of a context with authenticity. But more profoundly, Shelly’s experiences feed a passion that the writer skillfully brings to the page. 

Shelly, the photographer, comments on events with the clarity of the camera. The narrative takes us at some point in the dark sordid waterholes of New Orleans where the villains are, this time, the long time settled in the US, immigrants victims of another period of colonialist rule on another continent. The bitterness of their struggle against the English in India, feeds their anger, which they only know how to deflect by exacting revenge. Thus enslaving the progeny of those who enslaved them. With those chapters, the novel takes a fantastic turn. A dystopian adventure which derails the balance of the novel up till then faithful to an immediately graspable realism.

Those chapters deliver a redemption of the main character who because she benefits from the privileges accorded to her white status, must “naturally” also pay for those with an act of glory. It’s a setback in the novel. Shelly is now cloaked in the myth of the White as a liberator of the enslaved. Was that necessary, we wonder. It relegates Shelly to another time, today a distant past; a period hero. She regresses in the role of the Good White who allied with the good police saves the White child from the claws of the evil black man.

Apart from the parenthesis created around that romantic hero, Shelly has been fierce in the use of her privilege as a shield — she is white and young. Her resistance to her boss insisted on her wearing a skirt. She will find another job. Her right out alliance with her neighbours; she hardly can afford the clothes she buys them, but she has more resources. At some point, Shelly uses her foreigner status as a camouflage. Thus pretending not to understand the soldiers’ harassing questions as she steps on the Salvadorian country soil.  She uses her privilege as an English speaker to subvert an illegitimate authority. She chooses not to understand their questions. They let her go. 

A strong point of Miranda’s writing is her acute focus on the language in translation. She leads interesting inquiries in the centrality of context in giving meaning to language. We are reminded of Paolo Freire who made the context the meaningful center of his theory of critical pedagogy, later on put to practice as the structure of literacy campaigns in Brazil, Nicaragua, etc. Miranda helps us in seeing that language is not neutral, but more so carries the meaning of a contextual reality. Language is not bound to a dictionary edited by the White Academy. In a conversation with Victor, she first uses the word “disappear” in the conventional dictionary definition, however she is quick to remind herself that the conflict of war has shaped the meaning of the word disappear, “I forgot that in Latin America, that word means people who the military pick up, and you never see them again.”Toward the end of the novel Shelley asks Keisha, her ex-student now a friend, “What is the worst to bear: Racism, Sexism or Poverty?” And for Keisha to answer, “I don’t know, because I am all three.” Keisha, does not hide but identifies those 3 spears in her identity, as black, a woman, and poor. In her novel, Miranda tackles the intersectionality of those social markers, focusing the lens of her camera on Shelly’s personal history which in no moments is let to die in oblivion. That history serves as the testimony of what has propelled Shelly to dream and shape her dedication to the revolution. Finding in herself a voice of resistance, and the power to subvert authority – thus discovering her own.

“Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” follows the dramatic story of naive, sheltered Shelly going to “The Big Easy” to prepare for El Salvador, but has no idea she will encounter sexism and witness racism as well as illegal activities by government agents.
https://www.amzn.com/dp/B08KMHNNDK

Author, Sherrie Miranda’s husband made the trailer for “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans.” He wrote the music too.  https://youtu.be/7_NL-V9KEi4

My radio interview: https://cloudcast.us/drew-schlosbergs-spotlight-on-the-community/author-provides-insight-into-1980s-new-orleans/

Review: Shelly’s journey in “the city that care forgot.”Sherrie Miranda’s new novel “Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans” puts the reader into a whirlwind of political protests, abusive police, sexist attitudes towards women, and “good old boys” racism in 1980’s New Orleans. Miranda’s second novel follows Shelly, the young northerner, as she quickly finds out that she “isn’t in Kansas anymore” while encountering a slew of picturesque, colorful characters. Reading her book makes you wonder if justice and respect for blacks, immigrants, and women can be reality in America.

When you finish reading CIINO, check out SLIES:

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P11Ch5chkAc

The Week’s Best Cartoons: Thanksgiving 2020

Funnies aren’t very funny these days … Kinda sad, actually …
Sherrie Miranda”s “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” follows the dramatic story of naive, sheltered Shelly going to “The Big Easy” to prepare for El Salvador, but has no idea she will encounter sexism and witness racism as well as illegal activities by government agents.
https://www.amzn.com/dp/B08KMHNNDK

Filosofa's Word

Okay, okay … I’m a little late re-blogging TokyoSand’s latest cartoons … but other things have been occupying both my mind and my space here (no, I did not say there was space inside my mind, though likely there is).  Anyway, as usual, TS has scoured the ‘Net for the best political ‘toons of the past week, many Thanksgiving-themed, as you might have guessed.  Thank you, TS, for providing us with a wealth of talented cartoonists!

toon-1toon-2toon-3View the rest of the ‘toons

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Writers Write: 10 Bits Of Writing Advice From Stephen King

Writers Write
10 Bits Of Writing Advice From Stephen King

10 Bits Of Writing Advice From Stephen King

Writers Write is a writing resource. In this post we share 10 bits of writing advice from the American author, Stephen King.

Stephen King is one of the world’s most prolific writers. He was born 21 September 1947.

With millions of books and ebooks sold to his Constant Readers, he’s also one of the most successful authors of our time.

ItThe Dark HalfThe Green MileMr. Mercedes… King has managed to create entire worlds across several different genres. It’s every writer’s dream to be half as good or productive as this.

The good news is that the ability to write – and write well – is within every writer’s grasp. The better news is that Stephen King loves to give writing advice that can help writers get there. Here are some of the best, practical writing tips from one of the Masters of Writing.

10 Bits Of Writing Advice From Stephen King

If you happen to be a fan of Stephen King and/or his writing, good places to start would be his nonfiction books On Writing and Danse Macabre. Some of the single best advice on writing, grammar, and the writing industry as a whole can be found within these pages.

1. Write Sober               

Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson might make writers think that getting high or drunk is an essential to the writer’s toolkit – but here’s the thing: it isn’t. Addiction does damage, and as King points out in a Rolling Stone interview, it can really mess you up.

The Tommyknockers is an awful book. That was the last one I wrote before I cleaned up my act. And I’ve thought about it a lot lately and said to myself, “There’s really a good book in here, underneath all the sort of spurious energy that cocaine provides, and I ought to go back.” The book is about 700 pages long, and I’m thinking, “There’s probably a good 350-page novel in there.” ~Rolling Stone (2014)

2. Avoid Distraction When Writing

Don’t get lost in the related link loop for hours when you could (or should) be writing. Distractions are best avoided when you’re in writing mode. Even Stephen King has to admit that YouTube can be a burden sometimes.https://5b3a81cf5fa5f9d1fa6e3efe0d0bbcb6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

“YouTube is very addictive. I refused to put it on my favourite places because it’s too easy to go there.” ~Stephen King Visits YouTube

3. Listen To Critics

Don’t shut out the critics. Critics have pretty useful advice that can better your writing and guide your next pitch or paragraph. When asked about the worst writing advice he’s ever received, King brought up being told not to listen to critics.

“The worst advice? “Don’t listen to the critics.” I think that you really ought to listen to the critics, because sometimes they’re telling you something is broken that you can fix. I think the advice “Don’t listen to the critics” is a sort of defensive thing that says if you stick your head in the sand, you won’t have to hear any bad news and you won’t have to see any bad news and you won’t have to change what you’re doing. But if you listen, sometimes you can get rid of a bad habit.” ~Writers Digest, 1991

4. Write A First Draft (In Three Months)

How long have you been working on the first draft of your novel or short story? King says it should take no more than three months to wrap up what you’ve got for the basics.

“The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.” ~On Writing

5. Avoid Using Adverbs

Fans who know Stephen King should already know that he doesn’t love the use of adverbs. There are several quotes pertaining to them, but in this one he says exactly why they aren’t appropriate.

“The adverb is not your friend. Consider the sentence “He closed the door firmly.” It’s by no means a terrible sentence, but ask yourself if ‘firmly’ really has to be there.” ~On Writing

6. Remember Why You Write

Why do you write? Doing it for the right reasons can make the entire process an easier one. Stephen King has his reasons – and so should you. Again from the great On Writing, here’s what King had to say about it.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” ~On Writing

7. Write Great Opening Lines

Opening lines hook readers, or puzzle writers and editors. Stephen King has mastered the art of writing a great opening line for chapters and paragraphs – and in an interview for The Atlantic, King bares all.

For readers:  “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.”
For writers: “We’ve talked so much about the reader, but you can’t forget that the opening line is important to the writer, too. To the person who’s actually boots-on-the-ground. Because it’s not just the reader’s way in, it’s the writer’s way in also, and you’ve got to find a doorway that fits us both.” ~The Atlantic

8. See Stories As Unfound Relics

Where ideas come from is one of the largest great mysteries of the creative world. King says in On Writing that stories are relics – and that all writers really have to do is learn how to find them.

“Stories aren’t souvenir tee-shirts or Game Boys. Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it’s enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all the gigantic ribs and grinning teeth. Either way, short story or thousand page whopper of a novel, the techniques of excavation remain basically the same.” ~On Writing

9. Don’t Obsess About Genres

A lot of writers get stuck at which genre they’re writing. Don’t. Sometimes genre writing can be restrictive. During an NPR interview, King clarifies how he has managed to transcend genres when he sits down to do his thing.

“People can call me a horror writer if they want to, and that’s fine — as long as the checks don’t bounce, I’m happy with that. But I think that I do a lot more, and I’m interested in the mystery of what we are and what we’re capable of doing.” ~NPR

 10.  Avoid Phases Like…

Writers should keep an eye on King’s official Twitter account, where he occasionally voices thoughts and drops nuggets of writing advice – like this one on an overused phrase.

“Writing a story or a novel? Great! Want a tip? NEVER use the phrase ‘for a long moment.’” ~@StephenKing

If you want to read more about Stephen King, read:

  1. Stephen King on Writing Short Stories
  2. 13 Writing Lessons from Stephen King’s On Writing
  3. A Basement Kind of a Guy

Source for image: stephenking.com

By Alex J. Coyne.  Alex is a writer, proofreader, and regular card player. His features about cards, bridge, and card playing have appeared in Great Bridge Links, Gifts for Card Players, Bridge Canada Magazine, and Caribbean Compass. Get in touch at alexcoyneofficial.com.

“Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” follows the dramatic story of naive, sheltered Shelly going to “The Big Easy” to prepare for El Salvador, but has no idea she will encounter sexism and witness racism as well as illegal activities by government agents.
https://www.amzn.com/dp/B08KMHNNDK

Author, Sherrie Miranda’s husband made the trailer for “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans.” He wrote the music too. https://youtu.be/7_NL-V9KEi4

My radio interview:https://cloudcast.us/drew-schlosbergs-spotlight-on-the-community/author-provides-insight-into-1980s-new-orleans/

Review: Shelly’s journey in “the city that care forgot.”Sherrie Miranda’s new novel “Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans” puts the reader into a whirlwind of political protests, abusive police, sexist attitudes towards women, and “good old boys” racism in 1980’s New Orleans. Miranda’s second novel follows Shelly, the young northerner, as she quickly finds out that she “isn’t in Kansas anymore” while encountering a slew of picturesque, colorful characters. Reading her book makes you wonder if justice and respect for blacks, immigrants, and women can be reality in America.