My Continuing Adventures with PKD

May 18, 2015 at 6:31 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

P1030835Solar Lottery.

It wasn’t my favorite, but I suppose they can’t all be.  It was PKD’s first published novel, and it feels like it.  Not because it isn’t good, but because it’s so very typical genre.  There was a lack of bravery in it.  It’s plot pointed.  It’s correct.

I fell in love with PKD’s writing because it wasn’t confined to a formula, because he didn’t seem to care whether or not the plot points occurred when they were supposed to.  It is why Clans of the Alphane Moon is my favorite of his work so far.

The same week I read Solar Lottery, I also got a DVD I requested from the library:

MV5BMTg0MTIyOTExMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDU1ODMyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick.

It was an interlibrary loan from a college – what I call my “super fancy request” because it has a $3 a day late fee.

It looks like something they’d show in a high school class.  I say high school because I always thought showing videos in college courses was a lazy prof’s way out.  (You should require students to watch something, then discuss in class.)  Also, because by the time I got to college cheesy 90’s videos were being replaced by updated videos.

As I watch the video, I keep thinking how much I’d rather be reading the content in a book than be viewing a documentary.  I suffer from a plight the majority of my contemporaries will never understand… watching things on a screen is far more tedious to me than reading them.

Also, as I’m watching, Solar Lottery slips away from my mind as my most recent PKD experience (of slight disappointment) and all the reasons I adore PKD flood back.

There’s a cheesy cartoon of PKD moving his mouth to Phil’s actual audio responses, recorded when he was still living.  This would be cool if I didn’t feel like I was watching Southpark.  It’s hard to focus on the documentary without closing my eyes because a headache is starting to form behind my eyes, another reason why I don’t watch a lot of tv but can read for days straight.

I’m glad I’m listening, though.  There are so many things about him that fascinate me.  The break in to his safe, for instance.  People relate this tale in direct correlation to his drug use and having an unhealthy level of skepticism for the world around him… then the police thought he orchestrated the explosion himself… to which his supposedly drug addled mind thinks, “Maybe I did…?  What would my motivation have been?”

They attribute all of this to a novelist’s mind on drugs.

How is this not just a normal human response to an accusation?  I have these spin off thoughts nearly every moment of every day.  I’ve written entire novels in my head based on an accusation.  My first published novella was born slightly out of a similar strain of thought.

I may not be drug addled.  I may not be as prolific or clever.  But I do think, had I ever met PKD in person, we may have been friends, at least I think I would have liked him a lot.

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Circle of Quiet, Trails of Solace

June 17, 2014 at 6:37 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

circle of quietTitle:A Circle of Quiet
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Memoir/ Spirituality
Length: 229 pages

A Circle of Quiet is powerful.  So powerful it inspired me to write nearly 10,000 useable words, to writers you may note the awe I have when I say useable.

Some were used for the sequel to my novella, a novel that is supposed to come out in the fall of this year – fingers crossed.  But most of the words were for a new book, stories about my trails in the woods that are itching to be told but I’ve not known how to tell them because it’s all still happening, my trails are still real.

What is most impressive to me about A Circle of Quiet is not how many beautifully quotable quotes there are, but how completely relevant L’Engle’s story is to me.  So relevant, I didn’t noticed until 3/4 of the way through the book that it was published in 1972 and the things she writes about occurred in the early seventies if not the late sixties.

I was baffled to discover this.  A Wrinkle in Time and the rest of her children’s books are as fresh to me as the Harry Potter series.  I read them as I child without the impression that they were old.  In my mind, L’Engle has been an author of the 80’s who would be around as long as C.S. Lewis once the years had passed.  I did not realize that the books were much older than that and that the years had already passed.  A Wrinkle in Time was first published in 1962.

How is this possible that every moment, every ache, every joy (aside from winning the Newberry of course, as I’ve won nothing) is one I feel in every fiber of my being as a thirty year old in 2014? When she was born in 1918.  What struck me most is that A Circle of Quiet is timeless.

Madeleine L’Engle is timeless.

This is a must read for any mother, any writer or creative, any soul searching for God, any person trying to balance their introversion with their extroversion, and ultimately any person.

She published these from her journals, which she admits were written for publication, but still I am honored to have been allowed a peek into the window of her thoughts.

 

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Plagiarism

June 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , )

Plagiarism sort of fascinates me.  Mostly because I am a reader, I think.  And as a reader I absorb.

I absorb thoughts, ideas, fairy tales, story lines, dialogue… and sometimes when I’m writing I find that I can’t remember if what I’m writing came from a dream I had, a book I read, or a an actual idea that I am actually formulating as my ink pours from my pen.

I am re-reading The Mortal Instruments series, and with a re-read comes more review reading, more research, because I no longer fear a spoiler.  So long after the scandal, I discovered this morning that Cassandra Clare was accused of plagiarism on a fan fiction site for a Harry Potter spin-off series about Draco.  Not only accused, but her account was cancelled because of it.

I’m not defending plagiarism, it’s not ok.  The idea that someone would purposely just copy someone else’s work turns my stomach.

But what if it is purely accidental?

What if you have internalized a work so completely in your youth that as an adult an idea, dialogue, plot points, come to you so wholly formed and you recall that it was inspired by something, but not necessarily who or where the inspiration came from?

I can see that happening to me.  I read so much as a child and I cannot remember it all, but I do have to say that I don’t think a single idea I’ve ever had could actually be attributed to myself.  They aren’t my ideas.  They are the ideas of those who came before me.  They are the ideas that came from authors I loved, and characters who became my friends.

I distinctly remember writing a story once, I was maybe seventeen at the time, and I was so in love with it.  I thought, man, I’m good – this story is fantastic.  I re-read it, I worked on it avidly.  Then I realized, about a month later, that it wasn’t mine.  I was re-writing The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.  Perhaps slightly in my own words, but the essence of it was entirely hers and I was forced to throw it away.

It was the first time I became doubtful that I would ever publish anything.  Until then, I had been completely convinced that no matter what happened in my life, I would at least become an author in some capacity.  It was in my veins since the first time I picked up a book and could decode the letters that made words and sentences.  I had been writing stories and ‘books’ since I could manage to scrawl out a readable letter with my number two pencil.  But right then, as a teenager, I realized my biggest fear – that perhaps I didn’t have any words of my own.  Perhaps they all came from elsewhere.

That is when I realized what the biggest challenge would be for me to become an author – writing something original.  How do you sort through all that you’ve read, all that you love, and find something that doesn’t already belong to someone in some way?

Because of this, my novella doesn’t have much in the way of plot points.  The characters came to me, yes.  I can write their essence, yes.  But ultimately, I am terrified of plot points.  I feel like they’ve all been written before.  But people, people are always capable of being their own.  Characters are easier to write than plots, because I’m surrounded by characters – they live in my head.  Plots, on the other hand, only live in books that have already been written.  Real life doesn’t seem to consist of plots so I can’t rely on life to deliver inspiration that hasn’t already been had by someone.

Logical fallacies, of course.  But that’s how I feel.

And I can’t help but wonder if Cassandra Clare felt the same way from time to time.

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Freelance Writing

April 11, 2014 at 3:15 am (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

RoyalPort30grnI wish this blog was a post about me receiving one of those… see Daphne, above, a royal portable from 1930.  Green, no less.

It’s not.

But it is pretty exciting.

I’m pursuing supplementing my income with freelance writing jobs.  So far, I have been hired on by Money-Fax.com and I’m enjoying it quite a bit.  Money-Fax has me writing about Kid & Family Budgeting, which is pretty perfect because I’m a homeschool mom chronically on an author budget.  (That’s code for mommy who lives off nothing.)

Here are links to my published articles, so far:

The Economics of Cloth Diapers

How to Entertain Your Child for Free This Summer

How Much Does it Really Cost to Homeschool

The more traffic my articles get, the more people will want to have me write them – naturally.  So, please, if you have someone in your life any of these articles would interest, share them.

There are more to come.  Keep checking Money-Fax.com for budget friendly pets and ways to celebrate Easter.  Browse through their site for other helpful articles as well.  They are an education service geared toward helping the public learn to improve the state of their finances.

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Bones of My Bones

April 8, 2014 at 8:51 pm (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , )

Below is a very small piece out of a decently long series that is not yet published, but still lurking about on my computer.  The story is from ages ago, an angsty sci-fi piece I started writing when I was 14.  Things change and flesh themselves out when they see the light of day – or the eyes of others.  So periodically I like to post excerpts of things still in progress.

If you like this and you haven’t yet purchased my book, The Bookshop Hotel, please do.  Again – This is not from that book, but it is a sample of my writing.

She often wondered what her bones would look like after death. Bones tell tales. Bones are the memory book of all our scars, all our aches and pains, all our wounds. An autopsy would show her broken ribs, her smashed fingers, conditioned arms and legs… but would it also show the bruising on the inside? All the times her heart nearly burst and beat her sternum in anger and sadness from the inside?
They say that if old lovers can be friends they either were never in love or they still are. She wondered if that could be true, and if it was true then which was the case now? What would be worse? Thinking none of it was real before, or thinking there was still something there that neither one could acknowledge? Worse yet: if old feelings could bubble to the surface at any moment and disrupt the fabric of her current reality.
Then again, what defines lover? The problem with the world is that they apply emotional concepts to physical acts. By doing so, does that make the emotions with non-physical acts irrelevant? You can love someone and be loved by someone, you can be in love with someone, and never cross the line into the realm of ‘lovers.’ Lover implies physical contact, lover implies intercourse, lover implies bones of my bones and flesh of my flesh sort of contact.
It either takes serious emotional bonding or a vivid imagination to feel like you’re one flesh with someone you’ve never touched. To feel their absence like a stab in the gut. To feel their loss like a loss of your own limb. What if she just had the most vivid of imaginations? What if none of it had ever been real?
After death, would they see that too? Would her delusions be written on her bones? In her muscle mass… in her muscle memory. The heart having expanded too much, too quickly. Would they see that?

Copyright A.K. Klemm

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Little Tiny Novels

January 30, 2014 at 5:17 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Newton LetterTitle: The Newton Letter

Author: John Banville

Publisher: David R. Godine

Genre: Fiction

Length: 81 pages

After publishing my novella (roughly 130 pages long), my editor and I decided to make the sequel to my novella much longer.  The publisher wants a full length novel, but in our attempt for length we started to believe that length would equate higher quality.

Reading through drafts we found that for the sake of propelling the story and actually achieving the higher quality work we were looking for, large chunks of filler might have to be scrapped.  So I set out to read some great short work, to make myself feel better about not being Kate Morton.  And though I am no where near ever going to have the talent of John Banville, Panlo De Santis, John Steinbeck, or William Kennedy, there’s something to be said about reading these and knowing that a finished product is all about quality over quantity.

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.” – Stephen King, “The Horror Writer Market and the Ten Bears,” November 1973 WD

 

John Banville makes me crazy jealous.  I want his brain in my brain ever so briefly… just long enough to write something amazing.  Because everything he touches is amazing.  Even just an 80 page bit of story written before I was born reads like his full length prize winners.

The lesson in this for me (because almost every book I read teaches me something) is that while doing these edits for the second edition of my novella, I also need to edit in some breaks between paragraphs.  Visually there are some things that don’t flow.  I can thank my first edition readers for pointing this out.  Even if I pout a little bit, I am so grateful for all the criticism on my first work.  I’m pouting that I wasn’t more diligent about catching these things before you read it, not that you caught these things.  Anything any reader of mine tells me is something I truly do ponder in great detail.

“The worst advice? ‘Don’t listen to the critics.’ I think that you really ought to listen to the critics, because sometimes they’re telling you something is broken that you can fix.” – Stephen King

I want even my first work to be better.  I want my second work to be even better than the first.  Whether I achieve the length of a traditional novel or not, I hope the second book achieves the complete story arch of a traditional novel.  Hopefully, one day, when I’m old and gray, I can write something I’m happy with.  It won’t be John Banville, because I’m not him, but in the meantime I can adore him a lot and work a lot harder.

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Aspects of a Novelist

October 28, 2013 at 12:10 am (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , )

aspects-of-the-novelTitle: Aspects of the Novel

Author: E.M. Forster

Genre: Literary Criticism

Length: 176 pages

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a very small child.  So small that I don’t recall the first revelation or declaration.  I simply always knew it was something I wanted to do one day.  I also have always enjoyed books. I remember loving to read before I was even any good at it.  I remember devouring books before my peers had even mastered their letters.   This is not because I was smarter than them, not by a long shot.  This is just how much passion I had for the idea of language and the written word.

Naturally, I also love books about writers writing… like Stephen King’s On Writing and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden Letters.  I even like authors who get bossy about it like Umberto Eco and E.M. Forster.  They deserve to be bossy, as they are brilliant.

I fell in love with E.M. Forster in high school when my favorite English teacher of all time told me to get a copy of Howards End.  I remember devouring it almost over night and spending nearly a half hour after school discussing it with him.  I remember being utterly blown away by Howards End for reasons I cannot even vaguely recall now, but things amaze you at sixteen for no particular reason at all, it is a habit I have tried to keep as I age too.

My debut as a novelist comes out this week – a novella, actually – called The Bookshop Hotel.  I’m about halfway through writing the sequel, a book that will be a full length novel twice as long as the novella, and I’m already paranoid about potential reviews hailing my inferiority as a writer.  So, I’m consulting one of my heroes for advice, writerly wisdom from the talented author of Howards End.

As I read Forster’s famous lectures, it is becoming clear to me that I will never be E.M. Forster, John Steinbeck, or even an Audrey Niffenegger! I will never be a best-selling New York Times sensation.  I’m ok with that, it was never my intention to be infamous.  I have other aspirations.

What I would like to do, though, is to tell a few good stories, make some income for my family, and have the satisfaction of stumbling across my books on shelves in unexpected places.  That will be enough for me.

In the mean time, I’ll work as though my goal is to be the next Stephen King (on the prolific level anyway), because even though I am not the most talented, I don’t ever want to be accused of being half-assed.  I’d rather be untalented than lazy.

So here I am on a Sunday night perusing Aspects of the Novel, munching on every tidbit, taking notes, wondering if Forster himself would have anything positive to say about my stories because the vital elements to a novel he points out are vital indeed and I’m unsure as to whether my characters can live up to that vitality.

“Forster’s casual and wittily acute guidance… transmutes the dull stuff of He-said and She-said into characters, stories, and intimations of truth,” Jacques Barzun is quoted.  Let’s hope he’s right.

Whether it transforms me into something wonderful or not, the book is amazing.  Every student of literature, lover of books, or budding author should give this one a go.  Then again, I am partial, remember, I fell in love with Forster ages ago.

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The Wild Girls – A Review

March 14, 2013 at 3:58 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

WildGirlsTitle: The Wild Girls

Author: Pat Murphy

Publisher: Speak (an imprint of Penguin Group)

Genre: Young Adult

Length: 288 pages

Dear Publishing Companies,

Allow me to tell you something you probably already know: Take a book, add a matte finish to it, trace some swirly-like-ivy lines about, and add a garden or forest scene – I will most likely take the book home on the spot.

At least that’s what happened with Pat Murphy’s The Wild Girls.  And despite having an equally girly and gardeny looking book on my night stand (The Distant Hours by Kate Morton), I started reading The Wild Girls that day.

Even if the cover had not been so fabulous, the first line is:

“I met the Queen of the Foxes in 1972, when my family moved from Connecticut to California.”

How do you pass up a first line like that?

It’s a story about twelve year old girls for twelve year old girls, but at twenty-nine I was still dying to know all about the Queen of the Foxes and how interesting a girl would have to be to have the honor of meeting her.

My own wild girl, running, after we read in the park and took a boat ride, but before we had our picnic in the grass.

My own wild girl, running, after we read in the park and took a boat ride, but before we had our picnic in the grass.

Joan meets Sarah in the woods behind an old orchard and immediately takes to her even though Sarah is malicious and contemplating throwing rocks at her.  She can hit a kid dead on from about thirty feet away, too.  Soon the girls are fast friends with woodsy aliases Newt and Fox, telling and writing stories together as they each escape their lives in the comfort and enchanting beauty of the woods and its wildlife.

In the spirit of Bridge to Terabithia (without the inevitable water works), The Secret Garden (without the invalid), and a dash of How to Buy a Love of Reading (or writing), The Wild Girls is a great coming of age story for girls harboring an inner Josephine March (Little Women).

I loved it.  I read a lot of it to kiddo outside and she loved it as it served for a great book to welcome spring.  I can’t wait to read it again when she is older and see what she thinks of it then.

In the mean time, I’m looking for more Pat Murphy titles, reading Kate Morton, and writing a novel.

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Journaling at HPB Humble

January 13, 2013 at 12:46 am (Events, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

journalsart

Click image to see more on artistic journaling.

January 10tDSC02346h, 2013, I sat down for the very first journaling night at Half Price Books in Humble.  My customers weren’t exactly sure what to expect, and honestly, neither was I.  I brought my prisma colors, glue sticks, some fancy pens, and scrapbooking scissors.  We had magazines, scrapbooking paper, free unlined journals for all who attended, and a whole lot of untapped  creativity.

Hanging out with others while they drew, doodled, wrote, glued and pasted, was kind of awesome.  It’s relaxing to be creative with others, pool your resources, and brainstorm techniques.  Relaxing and stimulating, actually; so much so that we plan to gather monthly.

DSC02345

 

2nd Thursday of the Month from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, plan to sit around a table and really tackle the art of journaling with art.  This first meeting was a bit of an experimental night, but in the future I hope to incorporate some of those fabulous Pinterested projects that are floating around the web, possibly even start binding our own journals.

There are just so many things we could do at these gatherings and I can’t wait to dive in and pursue every avenue of this hobby.

Come be crafty with me.

Also, check this out: http://artsyville.blogspot.com/2012/11/a-village-in-my-mind-full-color-friday.html

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Julie & Julia – & JJ

December 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm (Recipes, Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Some people are appalled at this, and some find it wonderfully convenient, but I have friend categories.  With me, people always know where they stand, because that is what I appreciate most about my own interpersonal relationships.  I have a ‘best friend’, a ‘best friend since kindergarten’, a ‘roomie’ (my college room-mate),  a ‘sister-wife’ (a very bad long running joke with my bestie of a cousin, no we are not actually sister-wives), and a ‘favorite friend.’  I can proudly say that JJ Golightly, of the Tidbits from Miss Golightly, is my favorite friend.

Favorite friends are those people you can go lengthy times without seeing, but once you see them again they are like crack to your system and you want them more and more.  Favorite friends are those friends that if you ever chose to be lesbians (which we are not) you’d spend your life with them, because they are the ones you call randomly and say in the most superfluous and hyperbolic way possible: “I have a longing for you!”  Favorite friends are the ones that you’ll hold hands with in public and not care if people look at you funny or take it the wrong way, because like a surrogate sister, your favorite friend is someone you would love to have literally attached to your hip, or in your back pocket if you could keep a miniature of them.  They are also the person you happen to see the least of, and maybe that’s why the magnetism toward them remains forever in tact.

I recently had a wonderful visit from both my Roomie (Coffee Cups in Trees) and my Favorite Friend (Miss Golightly).  What happens on these trips is this:

almond cakeasparagus pestocaramel cheesecake

Roomie drinks coffee at the table, Favorite Friend bakes and cooks all sorts of goodies and photographs the results, I scurry back and forth trying to decide which I’d rather do, help cook or be lazy and drink coffee. The coffee usually wins.

Maybe it was because of one of these visits (in which all three of us gain five pounds over night), or maybe it was because Glen at the HPB Humble Book Club meeting brought up Julie Powell in our discussion of The Old Curiosity Shop, or maybe it was because I’d had the book sitting open to page five on my coffee table for about a year, but I finally got around to reading Julie & Julia.

Nothing like reading a memoir about a frazzled maniac with a serious obsession for obsessions and sci-fi shows – in the kitchen – writing a blog and book when you too are nearly 29, frazzled, obsessed (but not dedicated), writing a blog, and most recently lost your entire book (again) to a computer virus.  It gives hope.  It gives motivation.

I will write a book in the next 30 days.  Not the one I intended, I’m too crushed right now, but a different, lighter book that is loitering in a journal in my cabinet just waiting to be properly edited and put into a computer.  I have 30 days.  If Julie Powell can cook 523 recipes in 365 days, get published, and not be a loser by age 30, damn it, so can I.  Except I’m not cooking.  I’ll be ‘writing’ a nearly already book (from paper to computer) in 30 days and getting it to Smashwords by my 29th birthday.  This I do vow.

In the mean time, I will still be reading, writing this blog, eating if I can afford it, and teaching Kung Fu… because that’s who I am, that’s what I do.  Funny, that I had to be reminded of that by a memoir about French cooking.

julie-julia1

Which is a delightful, by the way, all the way down to her swearing like a sailor, something I wouldn’t have even noticed had she not pointed it out.  She may live in Long Island City, but when it comes down to it she’s from Texas, and as a Texan I can say there are two kinds of Texas women… the kind that swear, and the southern belles who don’t.

I appreciate her kitchen woes, I love to eat but have many cooking woes myself.  I appreciate her small and outlandish apartment, I have a once lovely home that has just been utterly broken by this recession and a foundation problem.  There’s just so much to relate to, and frankly, Julie Powell is down right endearing.  She’ll never be my Favorite Friend in real life, as that spot is forever taken and I doubt I’ll ever even meet her, but she is definitely a favorite on my bookshelf.

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