Harkening Explores
Difference Between Fiction
and Nonfiction

You Won't Know It's Nonfiction
Even as It Explores the Similarities
and Differences Between Two!

Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered 
ISBN: 1591295505     AmErica House http://bit.ly/TrueShortStories

Harkening explores the little white lies and solemn truths
 that one charming,
idiosyncratic family loves to repeat.
Each story is stitched to the next to become a saga of their sojourn from Michigan through a vanishing railroad town in New Mexico,
then into Utah, and finally (happily!),
to a place where individuality can thrive.

Creative Nonfiction and Oral Tradition
An excerpt from Harkening (really a full story).
Reviews for Harkening.

Carolyn's first person essay, "Beating Time at Its Own Game."   
holds three awards including
Word Thunder's Excellence in Writing award.
Learn more about Carolyn's writing awards.
Harkening is out of print. It can still be ordered--very frugally--using
Amazon's new and used feature.

Return to Carolyn's Literary Works page.

Oral Tradition and
 "New Creative Nonfiction"

Introduction (c)
Reprinted from
(c)2001Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Just when I think I’ve heard all the family stories—many times—another is remembered and told. That its truth was revealed years after the event is matter of concern, for authenticity is certain to have been colored by my mother’s imagination and my own.

My mother always loved to read. Her voice echoes that of many great authors—which I hardly notice—and many super-market romances as well, which I do. She describes people she has met or only observed from across the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Her words paint a picture down to the last detail like a paragraph carefully wrought.

            “Her hair is as thick as a mane,” she says. She details a woman’s beauty from the shape of her eyelids to the way the tilt of her nose changes as she ages. And when she tells a story she repeats it back in dialogue, even when it happened years ago -- as if her mind were a tape recorder and has stored every nuance. She is a walking, talking example of the “new” creative nonfiction.

This book is made from my own memories and the harkenings of others. I liken the process of recording them to a child who listens to adult conversation with nuances that she doesn’t quite understand so she must fill out the meaning with her own experiences. It is a bit like a child who tries to stand upright after twirling herself into oblivion; the pictures blend into a blur like a pinwheel and then—with time -- reassemble themselves in the living world.

I admit that sometimes I stop listening because I’ve heard so many times the story about how Gram Lucretia set the table with sterling or because the language of the tale being told is so Homerian that I am tempted to snooze. The “rosey-fingered dawns” become boring when repeated too many times, no matter how poetic they may have been in the original.

Then there is the affect of mood. The mood I was in when I heard it or when I was writing it can color it as surely as a box of Crayolas, bright or faded.

I must not forget the deliberate. There are certain exigencies required to mold a tale into something, you, my reader, will want to read. So I might change the order of an event or the color of a dress to fit the need of the story. The writing of it might require me to imagine another’s point of view in order to capture the story’s full truth.

I often wonder, am I writing fact or fiction? Is any truth more true that the way the writer sees it? In some sense, isn’t a writer’s truth more truthful than fact?

           It is very convenient that we have that new term creative nonfiction, but it is only a new term for a very ancient practice. I am determined to dispense with fact-driven guilt and tell these stories as I remember them or as I remember their being told to me. There really is no other way.

Tip for Readers

Carolyn Howard-Johnson provides reading lists for her students at UCLA and incorporates them into the Appendixes of many of her books and booklets. All are personally selected to make reading and and learning more about everything from the writing to the publishing of a book more fun. The tip? Don't overlook the value of a book that may be hiding in the backmatter!

Find at least one tip on writing, promotion, or tech on every page of this Web site. 

Buy Links for Carolyn's Books

Great Fiction
HARKENING at Amazon in their new and used feature.

Great Poetry
Purchase TRACINGS (Finishing Line Press) at Amazon.
IMPERFECT ECHOES: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters,
lie and oppression with Small

Give the gift of poetry with a chapbook from Magdalena Ball's
My Celebration Series

CHERISHED PULSE: Unconventional Love Poetry
IMAGINING THE FUTURE: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions
SHE WORE EMERALD THEN: Reflections on Motherhood
BLOOMING RED: Christmas Poetry for the Rational
DEEPER INTO THE POND: Celebration of Femininity
SUBLIME PLANET: Celebrating Earth and the Universe

HowToDoItFrugally Series for Writers
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 "Careers that are not fed die as readily
as any living organism given no sustenance." 
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Studio photography by Uriah Carr
3 Dimensional Book Cover Images by iFOGO
Logo by Lloyd King

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This is the Place, a novel



Tracings, a chapbook and memoir in one

Harkening, true short stories

Carolyn's Poetry

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Harkening's Awards

Harkening is the winner of three awards including Word Thunder's Excellence in Writing award. Find Carolyn's other awards on this site.

Endorsements for Harkening

 "Carolyn Howard-Johnson is going to be one of the greats."
Kristie Leigh Maguire, author of Desert Heat and Emails from the Edge

 “…A fine piece of writing…”
 ~Paul Lappen, Dead Trees Review

Carolyn's Poetry: Creative Nonfiction in a Different Genre?

Cover art by Vicki Thomas, Poetry by Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson

"Cherished Pulse is full of poems that describe love from the eyes and hearts of young and old. We see love in its youthful stage, stirring the hearts of man and woman alike and tying a bond that even death cannot break. As we continue reading, we understand that love deepens into an awesome, but quiet joy as the couple grows older. These poems renew our faith in love as they remind us of our own experience with this most sought after emotion."
~ Lucille P Robinson for Alternative-Read.com


Third in the Celebration of Chapbooks with Magdalena Ball, Imagining the Future is written expressly for fathers "and other masculine apparitions."

She Wore Emerald Then is a book of Moods of Motherhood: thirty poems by award-winning poets Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson, with original photography by May Lattanzio. A beautifully presented, tender and strikingly original gift book, ideal for Mother's Day or any day when you want to celebrate the notion of motherhood in its broadest sense.  Share this collection with someone you love.

More on Blooming Red: Christmas Poetry for the Rational on this Web site.

Sublime Planet is an e-chapbook and paperback published in the time-honored tradition of poets everywhere. This collection of ecologically oriented poems traverses a wide terrain, moving from the loss of species to the beauty of the natural world, from drought to the exploration of alternative planets. It's an exhilarating collection that breaks boundaries and leads the reader deep into the personal heart of perception. Released by award winning poets Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball to celebrate Earth Day, this is a collection of poetry that weaves the personal with the universal. Photograpy by Ann Howley.

“Whatever your age these poems celebrating women will speak to you of times to look forward to or to remember. These are not poems to be read once. They will stay with you forever.” ~ Nancy Famolari, author.

Also by Carolyn:

Tracings is winner of the Military Society of America's Award of Excellence and named to the Compulsive Reader's Ten Best Reads of 2005

Imperfect Echoes is Carolyn's newest poetry book. Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small. 

Cover and interior art by Richard Conway Jackson
All proceeds go to Amnesty International

Tip for Readers

Reading creative nonfiction is a little like reading historical fiction. But only a little. With historical fiction, sometimes it is hard to tell what is fiction and what is fact. If the author has been true to the spirit of creative nonfiction, you can trust the basics to be true though she'll color the narrative through the perspective of the character who is telling the story. The author must also create the dialogue as accurately as she can reconstruct it. The writer's brain, after all, is not a tape recorder.

Find at least one tip on writing, promotion or tech on every page of this Web site. 

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