CAROL SINGLETON

Creative Non-Fiction (Memoir)

If you follow astrology, then you know that Sagittarians have itchy feet. They can’t stay in one place too long. So that may explain why creative non-fiction editor Carol Singleton is once again seeking change. After four careers, three husbands, two children (both of whom have flown the coop), and two adorable grandchildren, she has returned to college to earn her MA in creative writing and her certificate to teach college composition. Carol’s life journey really got started when she left her home in a Bay Area suburb to join the U.S. Army right out of high school. The Army exposed her to new people and cultures and instilled in her some semblance of self-discipline that she previously lacked. To make a long story short, Carol has gone from being a soldier to being a high school teacher to being a peace activist to being a journalist to being a marketing specialist for the Department of Fish and Wildlife and now just really wants to return to teaching and get out of her drab, state-issued cubicle in downtown Sacramento. She is thrilled to be the creative non-fiction editor because she believes that stories in which the author has a deep connection to the content possess a sizzle-factor. When an author can get the reader’s heart to pulse with the same pain, joy, desire, regret and despair that the author felt, than the story has succeeded. In keeping with the theme of change, Carol particularly enjoys creative non-fiction that deals with characters in crisis, who struggle with inner and outer demons, family conflict, loss, self-doubt, and who ultimately emerge from the experience transformed.

Excerpt from “Holiday Yams”:

I suppose I dread holidays because they illuminate the fissure in our family tree. My brother’s absence is the greatest presence at each celebratory occasion. Inevitably his name will come up between bites of mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts. Any mention of his name is usually followed by eye rolling or an elbow jab, a why-the-hell-did-you-bring-that-up gesture. Mike has abandoned all remaining living members of our family of origin, which would be me, my mom, and my sister Clare. And he’s got good reason. He started by disowning my mother shortly after my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which happened just three years after my parents’ divorce. On the day my father was required to move out of the house, my mother attended a New Year’s Day party with her new boyfriend. Her life took on a brilliant northern trajectory, while my father’s headed south. He moved into a cramped, dreary apartment with furniture from a second-hand store. My mother, who got full custody of the children, was able to remain in our comfortable suburban home, but she was rarely there anymore. She and her new boyfriend starting traveling extensively, going to fine Italian restaurants and attending the opera in San Francisco, while my father ate Wonder Bread and huge chunks of cheddar cheese, while standing in his tiny, gray kitchen, his back slowly beginning to arch toward the earth. My brother is convinced that these circumstances are responsible for my father’s early death at age 50. I admit it was a nasty divorce and my mother was brutal and unscrupulous in her tactics, at one point even trying to get my sister and me to “confess” that our father had molested us. But her leading questions didn’t accomplish their aim: “Doesn’t it bother you when your father puts his arm around you or pats your leg?” “Uh, no, Mom, it doesn’t.” These strategies were not only about punishing my father, but about maximizing the child support payments. The less time the kids were allowed to spend with their father, the more money she’d receive.

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