♫ Last Train To Clarksville ♫

I had no idea this was an anti-war song. I like it even better now! ~Sherrie

Filosofa's Word

I have been grumpy, depressed, and out of sorts for days now, so for tonight’s music selection I went looking for something fun … no other criteria … no need for a song of social conscience, a song about love or lost love … just something to make the toes tap and lift the spirits, if only for 2 minutes and 45 seconds.  This one, an oldie from my youth, came to mind and I settled on it, thinking of it as a fun song.  Little did I know the meaning behind the song 🙄

Released in 1966, this was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, a songwriting team who came up with many songs for the Monkees. They also wrote songs for Chubby Checker and Jay & the Americans.

Boyce and Hart wrote this as a protest to the Vietnam War. They had to keep this quiet in…

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3 Tips For Being an Effective Writer

If you really want to be a writer, you will take this advice to heart. ❤

A Writer's Path

by R.J.Harrigan

Being a writer is one of the hardest but most rewarding passions to pursue. Unless you’re thinking monetary rewards in which case, be a doctor or something. I kid…not really.

How to be a writer is another challenge. Here are 3 simple tips to follow so you can call yourself a writer too!

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Kellie McGann “4 Reasons You Should Never Write Alone”

I totally agree with Kellie in this post. I was fortunate. The quarantine happened at the exact time I needed an editor. Then I had to get my book formatted & published, then I had to try to promote it in this atmosphere, BUT I can’t wait to get back to having my #WomenWrite meetings! ~ Sherrie (Details about my latest book are below Kelli’s article.)

Imagine the quintessential writer: introverted, glasses, coffee in hand, sitting alone at a small desk, while poking their fingers on a keyboard. Certainly, there’s no writers’ group here—it’s just one person, scribbling away in solitude.

Find Your Writers Group: 4 Reasons You Should Never Write Alone

We all have preconceived notions as to what being a writer looks like, but whatever your idea of a writer, I can bet that one trait is uniform across the board. You probably imagine your writer alone, the Stephen King type, secluded, perhaps in a cabin in the middle of nowhere.

Interestingly enough, being a writer alone is nearly impossible, and after being part of a writers’ group for almost a year, I’ve learned I could never do it alone.

Why You Shouldn’t Write Alone

Great writing is done in community, and besides having more great friends, there are four major benefits to not being a writer alone:

1. Free Proofreading and Editing

Editing is hard. Also, writers are terrible at editing our own pieces.

Regardless of how much you know about spelling, subject-verb agreement, or colons, all writers make mistakes. I’ve even seen errors in traditionally published books and articles, despite teams of editors.

Editors can be extremely expensive. Why spend all that money on an editor if you and a friend could just trade work? You’ll all get better at editing, and it’s free.

No one wants to publish a post or short story with the wrong “bear with me” or “bare with me,” because that could just be bad.

2. Emotional Support

There’s something about commiserating that feels so great.

It’s when someone has the same deadlines and you’re both feeling stuck, so you ask each other, “What word count are you at?” every five minutes. There’s a deep connection made through the pain of writing. Hopefully, your combined misery will turn to laughing, because you’ll have no other choice.

When you have no one to commiserate with, you also have no one to keep you accountable. We need someone to tell us we can do it, because we’re doing it together.

3. Gain Perspective

When you have friends that read your writing, they bring the perspective of the reader. As we write, and even read over our own work, we have author-brain. We’re never quite objective enough to catch all the problems.

When you write, you are familiar with you entire plot and storyline, but it’s easy forget that your reader is not. Having friends read your work reveals holes, inconsistencies, and confusion.

I have a friend who constantly writes controversial blog posts. I so often find myself saying, “Because I know who you are, I know what you’re trying to say, but what you’re writing isn’t what you mean. You sound harsh.” These conversations are invaluable for your writing and audience. Find someone who can give you this perspective before you publish.

4. Networking

A few months ago, I attended the Tribe conference, hosted by Jeff Goins. It was incredible, and if you weren’t there, you should be there next year.

At my table alone, I met a publisher, a writer for Copyblogger, a fantasy writer, and a couple who want to write a book.  While walking around I met a podcast producer, some Write Practice readers, and Pamela Hodges, one of the funniest writers ever (she writes for The Write Practice, too).

Don’t write alone. We all have different gifts. We all have something to give and receive from one another.

Imagine a team of people fighting for you to succeed. These are the people that are going to help you get jobs, further your business, and give you chances.

That’s what happens when we band together as writers, and push one another towards greatness with whatever we have to offer.“Invest in your writing by investing in the writers around you.Tweet thisTweet

Are You Ready to Stop Writing Alone?

The Write Practice is about improving our craft by practicing, and helping one another grow within a community of writers.

The heart of that community happens in Becoming Writer, our online writers’ group, where writers share their pieces every week and give each other feedback and encouragement. We’d love for you to join us!

And we love to build our community here on the blog, too. That’s why we invite you to share your writing in the comments every day—here, you can find your writing community and get the support you need to accomplish your goals.

As Hellen Keller says,““Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” —Helen KellerTweet thisTweet

Do you have a writers’ group? How do you connect with other writers? Let us know in the comments below.

PRACTICE

Are you feeling stuck? Now’s your chance to reach out with your writing challenges and get support.

Find a blog draft, a chapter you’re unsure of, or a piece you just feel needs help. Or, take fifteen minutes to write a new story about someone who really messed up cooking dinner. Share your writing, old or new, in the comments below.

Then, leave some edits, ideas, or encouragement for your fellow writers. Let’s all grow together!

Kellie McGannKellie McGann is the founder of Write a Better Book . She partners with leaders to help tell their stories in book form.

On the weekends, she writes poetry and prose.

She contributes to The Write Practice every other Wednesday.

“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

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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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

“Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans” Kindle Version on Sale thru Dec.! Just 99 cents!

“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, you can also get SLIES for 99 cents!

Here Is My Radio Interview by a huge fan of New Orleans. #CIINO #CrimesAndImpunityInNewOrleans #NewOrleans

I was nervous about my first interview about my new novel “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” but I have never felt so comfortable talking to someone! Plus, there’s nothing more fun than talking about the roller coaster ride that is New Orleans!

Drew Schlosberg has been to New Orleans 32 times, though he started going in the 90s, not the 80s when my novel takes place.

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

Here's the cover of my new novel. There's an Amazon link below.

“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/S6ouOzddZb8

My 1st review: 5.0 out of 5 stars She has lived this storyThe author is writing about what she has lived. It is accurate picture of New Orleans in the 1980s, and today in a certain way. Hope she gets the attention of those who want to learn about New Orleans on the ground level.

National Guardsmen killed four college students in Ohio in 1970 How Kent State Shootings Changed Protests Forever By Nina Bahadur

Image may contain Funeral Human Person Crowd and Derek Trucks

HOWARD RUFFNER/GETTY IMAGES

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.

Decades have passed, but we are still protesting the deaths of unarmed innocents at the hands of armed policemen, like the deaths of Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, and Jordan Edwards. And law enforcement officers are still using unnecessary force on peacefully protesting crowds, as when police reportedly used tear gas and water cannons on Dakota Access Pipeline protestors standing in subzero temperatures. Oh, and Republican lawmakers have called for legislation that could criminalize peaceful protesting.

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.”

Related: College Students Are Totally in Favor of Free Speech With One Exception

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: 
Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too:

4 Ways Writing Improves Your Relationship With Yourself by K.M. Weiland

I wanted to share something for writers & more importantly, for those who need a gentle push to start writing. This is perfect.    ❤ Sherrie

APRIL 20, 2020 by

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

From Where You Dream Robert Olen Butler

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.

Of first importance is making sure neither the logical self nor the creative self is overpowering the other. Too often, the creative self is beaten down and starved by a dominant and cruel logic that criticizes every word creativity puts on the page. But creativity can also run wild, like an unruly child with no regard for the advice of its logical parent.

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.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland

I consider the early conception stages—those of imagining, daydreaming, and dreamzoning—to be deeply creative, with very little logical input. Then comes the more conscious brainstorming of outlining, in which I sculpt my dreams and logically work through plot problems. This is followed by writing itself, in which creativity is again brought front and center as I dream my ideas to life on the page. And finally, logic returns to trim the ragged edges during editing.

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: 
Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too: