A Day With a Klemm

September 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Klemm.  When I looked up the meaning of my married name, I found a definition somewhat like this one:

German: from Middle High German klem ‘narrow’, ‘tight’, ‘scarce’, hence a
nickname for a thin or inhibited person, or alternatively a topographic name for
someone living in a narrow, precipitous place, from the Middle High German noun
form klemme ‘constriction’.

Read more on FamilyEducation: http://genealogy.familyeducation.com/surname-origin/klemm#ixzz26eR2FcGy

So it should come as no surprise that we have some very interesting daily habits that coincide with being a small, introverted, hobbit-like soul, that does not emerge from the house for days at a time.  First of all, we eat like hobbits:

  • Breakfast – 7am
  • Second breakfast – 9 am
  • Elevenses – 11 am
  • Lunch – 1 pm
  • Afternoon tea – 3pm
  • Dinner – 6 pm
  • Supper – 9 pm

In between all these meal times is a whole lot of coffee, a morning cleaning ritual, and lots of reading.

I get really into my books and the characters involved.  And with that engagement comes an intense need to invite them in my home the same way I would a welcomed but unknown guest.  I prepare coffee, make sure we have had our meals and have later meals prepared, clean the house (sweep, mop, vacuum, do the dishes and wipe down counters) and then I am ready to sit down with my future new friends – the lovely people portrayed in books.

So, I’m writing this blog post in between Elevenses and mopping the floor.  My coffee is ready (more than ready, I’m on cup two – and my cups are overly large mugs that fit about half a French press in each serving) thinking about Louise de la Baume le Blanc de la Valliere and how we are going to enjoy some afternoon sandwiches together.  That’s crazy book nerd talk for: I am going to be reading more of Karleen Koen’s Before Versailles while I munch on chicken salad sandwiches (I’m addicted to HEB’s Rotisserie Chicken Salad) and sip even more coffee.

I do the same thing before I write.  Which is probably why I’ve been working on the same novel since I was 14 years old.  Karleen said yesterday that it takes her a long time to complete a book, and all I could think was: Thank God, I am not alone, because I am taking forever.  If my debut novel is half as good as hers (Through a Glass Darkly) I feel as though I will have accomplished something in life.  I just want to finish it, get it in print, and have a completed work that someone – anyone – will remember.

I spend days on end reading and writing and eating with my daughter.  It is only for events, planned activities for her benefit, and my random extreme extrovert days that get me out of the house.  (One day, my daughter will probably tell you her mother was a bit wacky, as when I take personality tests I come out equally extroverted and introverted depending on the day.  Some have misused the term bipolar on me, but I got that checked out and I’m not.)  Yesterday I spent the whole day at Half Price Books running around and giving things away… today I will huddle up with Louise and Louis XIV and whoever my daughter interupts me with (LadyBug Girl a constant play friend in our house).

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The Importance of a Book Signing

September 16, 2012 at 2:47 pm (Events) (, , , , , , )

Some people will tell you that book signings are old-fashioned, a thing slowly creeping into the world of publishing past.  As both a reader and an event coordinator, I have strongly say that it is not.

As an event coordinator, I’ll tell you that yes, they can be slow.  People don’t stop as often as they maybe used to.  If it’s an author they are unfamiliar with they have a tendency to be stand offish, uncaring, or nervous.  Fix this by offering candy or baked goods, or even a few free books, and you’ve sealed the deal.  Like a sales person, all you have to do is get them up to the table.  Your merchandise, a friendly face, and their sheer curiosity will do the rest.  As an event coordinator I will tell you that you shouldn’t worry if not very many people buy your book that day, that’s not entirely the point of a book signing.  The point of a book signing is to get your face, your name, your book titles and book covers lodged in their brain, constantly tickling the edges of their frontal lobes.  Every time they see your work, for years to come, they will say in their head: I met him/her, I should buy this.  In this day of e-books, many wont buy from you in a brick and mortar store, but will rush home and purchase a kindle edition.

As a reader with severe extrovert tendencies, I will tell you that it is incredibly exciting.  Meeting an author, whether you love everything they’ve ever done, or just barely opened the first page of a book, or have never heard of them – to me – is so very exciting.  I want to hear their voice and the way they talk, let their real voice intertwine a bit with the inner one I’ve imagined in my head.  I want to know a few factoids, a few mannerisms, put their work in a greater perspective.  Yesterday, when I met Karleen Koen for the first time, I just wanted to bask in her author-ness, in her bookishness.  Of course, I ended up chattering hopelessly because that’s what I do, but my oh my how awesome it was to hang out and listen.  It made me want to get home afterward as quickly as possible and finish reading the book that I had meant to finish before the signing.  It made me want to buy the other books she has written, and all I can think about this morning is that there is a signed copy of Now Face to Face in hardback sitting on the shelf at the store… and how it needs to be mine.

My goal is to bring more book signings to Half Price Books Humble and one day maybe be as event filled as Murder By the Book in Houston.  Book signings are not dead and they should never be dead.  If you are an author interested in setting up a book signing, email me at andiklemm@rocketmail.com.

 

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Work Outs for Readers

July 15, 2012 at 3:15 am (The Whim) (, , , , )

I have a tendency to read so much during my day that outside of chasing Ayla and teaching a Kung Fu lesson, I forget to be active.  So I established a reading reward system for myself.

Just lay a good book in front of you! Click the picture to see what to do between chapters!

Even Days

* Don’t open the book until you’ve done 100 jumping jacks.

* For the 1st chapter of the day, read every left side of the page in the plank position, relax and lay flat on the opposite rights.  (Just lay the book in front of you on the floor.)

* At the end of each chapter you read, commit to doing 5 Burpees (I do a full push up in my Burpees).  Your reward for completing the 5th is that you get to move onto the next chapter.

* 2nd chapter: Sit in the center split position.  1st page: stretch left, 2nd page: stretch center, 3rd page: stretch right.  Repeat until end of chapter. When you will jump up and do 5 more Burpees!

* 3rd chapter: Every two pages (basically every time you turn the page) do knee touch planks for the duration of that page.   At the end of the chapter, Burpees!

* Repeat until you’re done reading for the day.

Odd Days

* 100 jumping jacks

* For the 1st chapter, lay the book in front of you and read while letting gravity pull your upper body to the floor to touch your toes (knees straight!).

* Between chapters do 30 crunches.

* 2nd chapter: Stand in a chi ma stance (horse-riding stance: feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, knees bent, back straight) holding the book out in front of you.  Don’t forget to do your crunches at the end of the chapter!

* 3rd chapter: Stand on your tip toes for the left side of the page and relax your feet on alternate pages.  Then, of course, at the end of the chapter do your crunches.

* Repeat until you’re done reading for the day.

 

Today was an even day, and I stuck to the work out.  Needless to say, I’m quite sore, but I feel great.  Looking forward to tomorrow.

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Review: Suite Francaise

July 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

I don’t think anyone can truly appreciate this book until they know the following: When Nemirovsky was writing the book she originally meant it to be five parts, but she only finished two: Storm in June and Dolce, these two parts are what makes up Suite Francaise. These five parts though, were each individually fashioned (in writing style) after the five parts of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Storm in June’s chapters are short and sweet, choppy, slightly repetitious in nature. Dolce is a little more long-winded and flowing. Imagine the beauty of the completed work, if she had lived to finish it. Without this critical information I was irritated by her repetition. I thought perhaps it hadn’t been through the proper editing because she died before the novel was completed. But listening to Beethoven and knowing what she was fashioning this all after, putting the war in terms of music, within a novel. Its beautifully fascinating. What made her think of it? How wonderful would the entire book have been had she lived to complete it? The story was interesting and the writing good, but for some reason I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I think I should have. I expected this to be a four or five-star book for me, easily, based on reviews and whatnot. Instead, I just liked it, and was far more fascinated by the appendices at the end. I loved her notes and journal entries, it was so amazing to be inside her head for those brief moments.


Book Title:Suite Francaise
Author: Irene Nemirovsky
Original Publication Date: 2004 (written in 1942)
Edition Read:
2006 Knopf
Total Pages:
395
Genre:
Classic Historical Fiction
Reason Read:
Found on Amazon as a gift for my mother; she gave thumbs up as did Sandy, neither of whom steer me wrong
Rating:
5 out of 5 Stars

“He wanted to write a story about these charming little horses, a story that would evoke this day in July, this land, this farm, these people, the war – and himself.

“He wrote with a chewed-up pencil stub, in a little notebook which he hid against his heart. He felt he had to hurry: something inside him was making him anxious, was knocking on an invisible door.” – Page 179

If you love lyrical prose and character development, I highly recommend this enjoyable book. I really loved this book the farther along I went…

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Summer Reading Programs – July 2012 Update

July 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm (Events) (, , , , , , , , )

Feed Your Brain display at Half Price Books in Humble

I’m proud to say that my little kiddo sat through all of her 500 minutes of reading time and then some, earning herself a certificate signed by the State Librarian and a free book from the library.  Harris County Public Libraries have a fun little system going, and it has been fun logging all our minutes read over the last few weeks for the Get a Clue program.

In addition to that, Half Price Books has a summer reading program as well called Feed Your Brain.  Reading time is supposed to be done during the months of June and July, but its not too late to get started now and earn prizes for both programs.

To help your kids earn their minutes, bring them along to Wednesday story time at Half Price Books Humble at 10:30 am.  Books are read until we get tired (usually around 11:00 am, but if we’ve got a good attention span out of the kids that day, we may stretch it to 11:15 or so).  Every now and then we are privileged enough to have children’s authors read their own book aloud and stay for a book signing.  Snacks are always provided.

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Music You Can Read To

June 9, 2012 at 4:25 am (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Best Gift Ever

When starting my day, I almost always flick on the switch to the radio and set my mood.  There’s cooking breakfast music, dancing music, workout music, sex music… there’s music you write to, music you relax to, music you mow the lawn or party to, there’s I’m working on the car music, there’s its raining outside music… and of course, every book lover has their favorite reading music.

Lately, my favorite reading music has been Andreas Vollenweider‘s Cosmopoly album.  As a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I still listen to most my music on cassette and cd, and some all time favorites are still on vinyl.  So, even though I love making playlists on my computer, I’m a big fan of purchasing cd’s and have yet to invest in an ipod or whatever is the new greatest way to listen to stuff.  This particular purchase was a fabulous $3.00 item from a clearance sidewalk sale at my favorite Half Price Books store about a year ago.

While listening to the calm, but not sleepy, tunes of Vollenweider’s many instruments, his work suits both jazz and classical moods, and I’ve found it to be a perfect companion to Ayla’s school time.  School time is quite short, as she’s only a year and a half.  But while she masters holding a writing utensil and hanging out at the kitchen table while snacking on cheerios, I’ve been reading segments of Susan Wise Bauer‘s History of the Ancient World to her each morning.  I know, its silly, but I feel so much more cultured when listening to World Music while reading World History.  (We also throw in a story from the children’s bible if she’s being extra focused that day, its got more interesting pictures for a toddler.)  When she’s had enough of sitting still, we put her work away for later, I hang out on the couch and continue my reading and she has a dance marathon in the living room.  Its kind of our thing, and Vollenweider manages to be both soothing enough for me to read and peppy enough for Ayla to go all Flashdance and Footloose with the dogs.

from Eric Carle’s The Very Quiet Cricket, features great reading noise for baby at the end of the book

After Ayla goes to bed at night, I usually read while my husband watches TedTalks on Netflix.  After he falls asleep, though, the music I read to is a little bit different.  Its the music of a quiet house.  My tea pot steaming on the stove, my beagle jingling around the house as he nestles into a cozy place to sleep for the evening.  Through open windows comes the singing of crickets, frogs, and cicadas.  Sometimes I can hear Solovino, our stray cat, pad by the front patio windo.  You would think cats would be quiet and stealthy, he can be, but mostly he likes to taunt my dogs.  Solovino was born under our deck, the other kittens from the litter found homes via neighbor friends and moved away, but Solovino now stalks our street and kills our mice population.  There are about four houses that ‘share’ him.  My next door neighbor gave him his name, she says it means he is “an univited guest that doesn’t want to leave,” but if we were all true to ourselves we would admit that we would hate to see him go.  He is the loudest meower that has ever lived, you can hear that cat all the way across the neighborhood and some days I spend my reading time blocking out his competitive high pitched sing song MEOW while also intermittently egging him on with a cat call of my own.  Now, while I type, the gentle hum of a fan is buzzing and I can just barely hear the hubby breathing in his sleep.  As soon as this post is done, its back to the books, because the sound right now is in that happy soothing place (teetering on the virge of annoying, but too calming to quite get there).

Do you listen to music while you read? What is your favorite music to read to? If you don’t, what is your reading environment like… indoors, outdoors, do you start the kettle to hear the whistle blow, do you wait until night to hear the cicadas chirp?

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“I can always live by my pen.”

May 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm (In So Many Words, The Whim) (, , , , )

The above quote is from the infamous Jane Austen.  And although I don’t get paid for my writing (yet!), I’d like to think that I too live by my pen.

Journaling has always been such a huge part of my reading experience.  So I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it before, but I was reading through the blogs I follow this morning and discovered a new one: The Journal Keepers.  Immediately, I thought that it was about time I had a post about journaling.

Journaling is a crucial part of the learning experience.  When you read, listen, or are shown anything its so important to take note of new information.  After your notes, discuss how it affects you, and make plans for its use in the future.

Journaling keeps your brain active, keeps you on your toes.  Its also good for documentation – keeping tabs on all you’ve discovered and how you’ve changed over the years.  Its how you avoid repeating history and all the bad things of your past, see your progress, revel in your accomplishments.

There are so many different ways to journal.  Some people keep strict notes or outlines.  Some people make lists, tell stories, or merely share their day.  I’ve seen journals full of poetry, and journals full of nothing but sketches and other art work.  I’ve heard of people who only journal using prompts either from websites, magazines, books, or sometimes simply from the journal.

Mine? A combination of all of the above, but the prompts I usually come up with myself or get from close friends.

There are so many different ways to partake in this enriching activity, and it doesn’t really matter how you do it, the important thing is the doing itself.  I can’t imagine writing a useful review with out sitting down with my journal at some point while reading the book, or at least immediately after finishing the book.  I don’t know how I would effectively sort through my TBR pile without my beloved notebooks.  My entire life is chronicled, book after book, with messy, sprawling ink from my pen – years and years of thoughts, events, emotions, lists, notes, quotes, and more.

Do you journal while you read? How do you journal?

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Book Love Art

April 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , )

I have always been a lover of books, and of art.  If you’ve followed my blog for very long at all, you’ve seen lots of Bryan Collins pieces floating around.  I’ve even encouraged the purchase of his bookmarks in a previous post. Its why I am completely obsessed with Ophelia’s Quote Mugs. With that in mind, I’m sure you can only imagine my complete and utter joy when I saw this:

This is the photography handiwork of “Boy Wonder” Joel Robison.  Joel  lives in British Columbia Canada and apparently is self taught, playing with his camera and computer to master the self portrait.  I love his stuff.  He has work available on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/people/boywonder, and I hope everyone who reads this post takes a look at what he has for sale and finds themselves a treat.

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