Harkening Explores
Difference Between Fiction
and Nonfiction

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


An excerpt from Harkening (really a full story).
Reviews for Harkening.

Carolyn's first person essay, "Beating Time at Its Own Game." 

Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered 
ISBN: 1591295505     AmErica House http://budurl.com/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

has  three awards including
Word Thunder's Excellence in Writing award.

What Is Harkening All About?

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. 

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HARKENING at Amazon.

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CHERISHED PULSE: Unconventional Love Poetry
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SHE WORE EMERALD THEN: Reflections on Motherhood
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson

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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.

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. 

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 Awards

Awards for Carolyn's Books, Blogs and More

The New Book Review
Named to
Online Universities'

101 Book Blogs
You Need to Read

Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites
Sharing with Writers blog.


Best Book Award for The Frugal Book Promoter (2004) and The Frugal Editor (2008) and the Second Edition of The Frugal Book Promoter (2011).


Reader Views Literary Award for The Frugal Editor

New Generation Award for Marketing and Finalist for The Frugal Editor

Book Publicists of Southern California's Irwin Award

Military Writers Award of Excellence for
Tracings, A Chapbook of Poetry.

A Retailer's Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotion wins author Military Writers Society of America's Author of the Month award for March, 2010


Gold Medal Award from Military Writers Society of America, 2010. MWSA also gave a nod to She Wore Emerald Then, a chapbook of poetry honoring mothers.

The Frugal Editor Named #! on Top Ten Editing Books list.

The Oxford Award recognizes the alumna who exemplifies the Delta Gamma precept of service to her community and who, through the years, devotes her talents to improve the quality of life around her.

And more than a dozen other awards for Carolyn's novel, short story collection and poetry. See the awards page on this site.

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