Friday, March 23, 2012

"Who Saw the Deep" and ABNA (and a link to the excerpt)

A few years ago I wrote a novel. I revised it a few times and then I put it aside. This year I dug it up and submitted it to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award as a sci-fi novel under the general fiction category. To my surprise, it's made it to the quarterfinals. That's about halfway through the contest.

There are several more rounds to go: semifinals (April 24)-100 novels picked by Publisher's Weekly, finals (May 22)-6 novels picked by Penguin editors, voting round-these 6 novels are voted on by Amazon customers to pick 2 winners, one in general fiction and one in young adult.

I have no illusions. I've been writing for a long time now and I have enough rejection letters to paper my walls, build a castle, or possibly burn as a giant effigy, etc. etc. Even so, it's been great to get this far.

My novel is called "Who Saw the Deep" after a quote from the epic of Gilgamesh (depending on your translation). Here's the epigraph that appears at the beginning of the novel:

The one who saw the deep I will declare to the world,
The one who knew all I will tell about
. . .
He saw the great Mystery, discovered the Hidden,
he recovered the knowledge of all the times before the Flood.
He journeyed beyond the distant, he journeyed beyond exhaustion,
And then carved his story on stone.
—first six lines from the epic of Gilgamesh

"Who Saw the Deep" is a science fiction novel that explores choice: life over death, trust versus skepticism, determination despite betrayal. What will Noah do when confronted with the impossible? When everything he thought he knew about the world and humanity is wrong? Noah looks into the deepest secrets of the human race and realizes the survival of the species is more dependent on love and stubbornness than he could have imagined. That civilization endures because of anonymous acts executed by ordinary individuals. Individuals like him.

If you'd like to read an excerpt (the first 5000 words of my book) go to Amazon and download it. It's free! You can leave a review if you'd like. Here is the link to it on Amazon: Who Saw the Deep.

To download it: Click on the Buy Now button. Since it's free, you won't be charged. You can read it on your Kindle, your smartphone or iPad if it has the Kindle app, or you can read it on your computer with Amazon's Kindle reader software (also a free download).

FYI: Amazon had a lot of trouble with the formatting of the excerpts. The quotations marks and apostrophes are fixed now, but my tabs and carriage returns are still somewhat randomly missing. However, the text is readable. If you read the excerpt, please keep in mind that I actually know how to use paragraph markers and carriage returns. If you'd like a clean copy of the excerpt, let me know via comments here, email, or FB and I'll send you one.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Coming soon! couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour

Upper Rubber Boot Books is coordinating a book blog tour for April, to help promote poetry and poets for National Poetry Month. Check back here for updates throughout the month of April (we’ll also post updates to our blog, and so will many of the participating poets).
Follow this event on Facebook or Goodreads


  • Coming in April 2012.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Reviews for Ballroom - a love story

My latest chapbook, Ballroom - a love story, is now available from Flutter Press. You can buy it at this link: Ballroom - a love story.

This chapbook was written during NaPoWriMo in April 2011. It's a series of poems that speak of learning how to dance, from the beginning steps of the waltz to what it’s like when a dancer begins to feel the steps rather than just mechanically arrange the arms and legs. The poems also describe dancing with one's partner: it's a bit like falling in love, thus the title, "a love story." I wrote them in in the spring of 2011 after having spent three years (now four years) taking ballroom dance lessons.

These poems wouldn't have been possible without the help and support of two extraordinary individuals. First, my husband Terry, without whom I could not dance at all. These poems are basically one long love letter to him. He also makes a perfect cameo in the cover photo. The other is our dance teacher, Lynn Kettenburg, of Victory Dance Center in Emmaus, PA. I can honestly say without reservation that she is the best teacher I've ever had. That is a gift I will always keep close to my heart with deepest gratitude.

A selection of poems from this chapbook is forthcoming in the next issue of Diode. Stay tuned for links. Some sample poems at the bottom of this post, just scroll down.

Reviews (thank you ladies!):

We have learned how to dance or we remember our parents floating above their own dance floor in Christine Klocek-Lim’s chapbook Ballroom—a love story. For the speaker and her man in each neatly-narrated poem, dance helps them “look at each other,” and helps all lovers, even ones who learn to dance midway in life, know that with dance “eyes touch.” And as dance skills improve, beckon for repetition and risk through the progression of Klocek-Lim’s skillfully touching images that take us to vertigo, ocean, and back to the dance floor, her speaker plunges into the act of life and love through dance.

The rumba seen in “Rumba—spot turns,” is so very sexy yet shares a rawness of “muscle through hard depths to bone,” as the speaker shares the intricacy of love’s moves, wondering just how deep body and emotion can go. The notion of the tango and its couple’s mirror-like movements transcend in “Tango – torneo cinco” because not only do we become aware of “[t]he difficulty of toes and muscle aligning,” but we also accept the labor of the difficulty, much like the labor of true love when the speaker admits that “[i]t’s easier to walk alone / but not as beautiful….”

My favorite ballroom dance, the cha cha, takes on the wonderfully surreal (as do many of the poems in this collection) in “Cha Cha—paseo,” as the dancers/lovers become relentless, practicing “until the river is littered with petals” / and the trees have given up on [them]” as they master the art of spinning. In fact, this penultimate poem anticipates the final and title poem that explains and concludes in metaphor the lasting love story that we’ve experienced all along in each poem: “he lifts me, twists me into knots. / I am a ribbon, caught on his bough. / The last red leaf.”

~ Theresa Senato Edwards, author of Voices Through Skin (Sibling Rivalry Press 2011) and Painting Czeslawa Kwoka ~ Honoring Children of the Holocaust with Painter Lori Schreiner (unbound CONTENT 2012)

“I confess: At first I thought, “A Love Story? Really?” But it is, not only of the rediscovery of a long-married couple, but of self and world, and perhaps most importantly, of the self that’s burdened with judgment and the self that simply dances. Klocek-Lim’s ballroom dancing poems take you with them on a year-long journey from the first stiff steps to the joy of moving in tandem with animal grace—a lovely turn.”

~ Wendy Babiak, author of Conspiracy of Leaves (Plain View Press)

With a sure hand on the small of your back, Christine Klocek-Lim guides the reader through this collection of beautiful, and beautifully choreographed poems. These lush, spell-binding poems explore love, intimacy, desire and how close flying is to falling. The poems in Ballroom - a love story pull you into their powerful rhythms and luminous language. These exquisite poems are "brilliant as sapphires," with a "music as sweet as honey."

~ Patty Paine, author of The Sounding Machine (Accents Publishing) and editor of Diode

Two bodies meet, the ballroom is all glitter, stars and sparkle, two bodies turn into wind, rising and falling to the ceiling then the floor, hands are touching arms and backs, heels are clicking, and we are spinning in dance after dance. "Because vertigo feels / like freedom," and Christine Klocek-Lim's Ballroom feels just like that. Dances turn into waves and shells, watching as the tide rolls in. "I have no idea how I got here," and neither do we. There is a dizzy and tender connection between man and woman, and yet a fear of awkwardness, an unknowing of how to move the feet or of where the dance will go. Between glitter and stars, there is an intimate tango of closeness and indifference. "and I'm in love again, or falling / in love. My heart doesn't know it should be careful," the fantasy world of the Cha Cha turns the poet, allowing her to forget place and age, she goes on to write: "yet I'm so dizzy I can't remember the beginning / of the party." This book made me want to go to the dance floor, to spin in her world, to be "A dropped penny, desperate for him / to scoop me back up." Christine stuns and shines in this whirlwind of pure poetic word-dance.

~ Christine Yurick, editor of Think Journal

Sample poems:

Viennese Waltz — natural turn

It’s like flying
or falling.
Each step a revolution.
The planet tilted
too much.
Sunlight far off.
Clouds strangely graceful
even as the storm
She says, lean back further.
Enough to contain
the rotation.

The ballroom is wide
as a plain. I’m a sapling
and he is the wind.
Sometimes I touch the floor,
toes starved for solid ground.
Sometimes I leap.
Every other step a lock
as though leaves
can be caged.

He is vertigo.
The darkened tornado
peeling my meadow.
The sky falters but I hang on,
fingers lodged in his bones.
I am a white birch.
I am a falling

I am a spinning
leaf, spiked
with rain.

Tango — torneo cinco

My mother finds me in the kitchen
with ice and bandages, foot propped
like a broken shoe.
My bruise looks like Argentina,
a forest of color.

We’re learning the tango, I say,
thinking of the trees outside
the dance studio. Oaks along the river.
My mother is thinking, how terrible
the leaves die each winter.

Sometimes love necessitates disaster.
She didn’t see his face when we came together.
How I dared him to fall as I stepped around him.
How he dared me to lead, fingers on my body
tight as a locked door. I took five steps,
unaware of the vertigo. The difficulty of toes
and muscle aligning. It’s easier to walk alone
but not as beautiful, I thought, then lost
my way. The forest is a trickster.

Doesn’t it hurt? she wonders, fingering my instep.
I bandage the pain and pull away.
No explanation.
I’m remembering the trees, how the leaves
turned scarlet at just the right moment.

His palm, perilously sweet
against my wound.

© 2012 Christine Klocek-Lim

Monday, March 05, 2012

First Crocus 2012

This is the first crocus that made it to the flowering stage in my yard this year. I type this with clenched teeth as I examine the neatly eaten stalks that signify a number of other crocuses may have bloomed already sometime when I wasn't watching. Something is eating my flowers and I would like to find those crocus-eating creatures (probably a bunny, otherwise known as a hideous, evil, toothy demon) and explain that eating my flowers is not cute. NOT CUTE AT ALL. It results in that throbbing sensation on the right side of my temple. It makes me curse in horribly uncreative ways (you stupid, damn, stupid rabbit!). I want the crocuses to bloom and then experience a natural, withered death without meeting any teeth anywhere in their life cycle. You got that stupid stupid stupid damn bunny? I don't care if you have a fluffy white tail that makes my last remaining cuteness neuron seize up with awe. Leave my crocuses alone!

First Crocus

This morning, flowers cracked open
the earth’s brown shell. Spring
leaves spilled everywhere
though winter’s stern hand
could come down again at any moment
to break the delicate yolk
of a new bloom.

The crocus don’t see this as they chatter
beneath a cheerful petal of spring sky.
They ignore the air’s brisk arm
as they peer at their fresh stems, step
on the leftover fragments
of old leaves.

When the night wind twists them to pieces,
they will die like this: laughing,
tossing their brilliant heads
in the bitter air.

© 2007 Christine Klocek-Lim