Education does not necessarily equal learning…

…nor does it always confer a love of reading. I’ve ruminated on this particular subject for many years, probably because my 5-6th grade teacher was so very BAD at her job. I went to an elementary school so small it had double classrooms—in other words, fifth and sixth grade was smooshed together and the total number of students equaled maybe twenty per classroom.

Anyway, I remember feeling very betrayed when I got to fifth grade, because my 3-4th grade teacher was so very GOOD at her job. I had no idea until that moment that adults could totally suck at their jobs. It was a harsh awakening. I was a straight-A student and when I hit fifth grade, I had every expectation that this would continue. It did, but not because of my teacher, and not because I worked harder than before. It was mostly because I was genetically gifted with the ability to absorb information.

My teacher, for the first time in my life, actively disliked me. As an adult, it gradually dawned on me that she probably disliked me because I was so very bright and wasn’t afraid to show it. At that age, I had no filter. I said whatever the hell I thought (I must admit, I have backslid into that mode of behavior recently, with intention). I’m sure I must have been belligerent or just disdainful towards her (it seems to run in the family).

The lesson I learned from those years, though, was this: school can totally suck.

I mean, I knew it before… I was bullied. But the learning always made up for the misery. I loved cracking open new textbooks. I loved reading. Until fifth grade, I thought that would continue for always. It didn’t. Instead, I learned that learning on my own was way more fun than learning in school. Books became my solace, and have continued to transport me throughout my life.

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Recently, my son has run up against this same wall. He’s trying to figure out why his high school and earlier schools did not really prepare him for having to write a paper in college. For some reason, the education system seems to think that PowerPoint presentations and projects with colored pencils are the way to teach writing. Sure, he had to write a little—the standard five paragraph paper complete with outline, but there was not very much practice with writing the way I remember it from my days in high school. He’s wondering why he feels like a widget in an education factory.

Perhaps I’m remembering wrong. Perhaps no school can ever teach the basics and we’re all just fooling ourselves. I know that most states and our federal government seem to fall short of creating a consistent curriculum for every school. I know that some great teachers manage to teach well, but mostly DESPITE the standard curriculum. They have to teach around all the required testing. Mediocre teachers drone on and on at the head of the classroom while the students die of boredom in their seats.

My gut tells me the heart of the problem lies in two things: we treat our teachers badly (poor pay, district politicking, standardized tests, etc.), and we assume that every child can be a star. The truth is, some kids are better at building things with their hands. Some are great at math, but suck at reading. Some are fantastic writers, but struggle with word problems. People have different talents and intelligence levels. When did we start assuming that everyone would be good at the same things? I find that confounding.

We need to stop assuming that access to public education means everyone will be brilliant at everything. Broad access to education was meant to create a literate society. It has done this, for the most part, barring poverty-stricken districts (my grandparents had an 8th grade level education—their parents were mostly illiterate). We also need to remember that the US is composed of wildly disparate individuals and cultures. We are not Japan or Finland or China. We are not a homogenous society. This creates challenges that no one else in the world faces. We’ve done okay. We can do better, I’m sure. However, the biggest issue for me personally is this: education does not necessarily equal learning.

I have spent my entire life fighting against the drudgery of school in order to convince my children that learning itself is cool, even if school sucks. This has been an uphill battle. Why? Because they spend most of their lives in a classroom, just as adults spend theirs working. It’s hard to separate learning from school when the majority of your time is spent there. Perhaps this is yet another lesson everyone must figure out on their own. I’m not certain. What I find most confusing, however, is this: I grew up in a depressed area, going to poor schools. Why are my kids so much more disillusioned with education than I was, when they had the opportunity to go to “good” schools with lots of district money?

I think it’s because when I was growing up, great teachers didn’t have as much oversight, and so they were able to do a much better job at teaching. The flip side is that the bad teachers I had also had much less oversight, and created much more damage. Our society has decided that it’s better to limit the good teachers and force the bad ones into the same track, thereby averaging everything out.

Which is the better way? I have no idea, so I think I’m going to go read a book now. I bet I learn something.

Who Saw the Deep – coming November 2013 from Evernight!

I can finally announce the fabulous news I’ve been sitting on for a few days now (all the better to savor it): I’ve signed a contract with Evernight Publishing for my sci-fi/mystery/romance novel, Who Saw the Deep! It will be coming out in November 2013.

This is the book that made it all the way to the semi-finals in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I know some of you were really wishing they could read the rest of the book after reading the sample posted on Amazon last year—and in little more than a month you will be able to see what happens to Noah and Amelia.

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Who Saw the Deep — coming November 2013!

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Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist — April 2012

  • Romance, Suspense, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Mystery
  • Word Count: 53,900
  • Heat Level 1
  • Published By: Evernight Publishing

Description:

When Noah moves back home after grad school, he doesn’t expect a simple handyman job to turn deadly. Amelia seems like a sweet old lady with a run-down house, but appearances can be deceptive. When an alien ship lands in her woods, Noah discovers that everything he believed about Earth and human civilization is wrong.

Amelia already gave her heart to one man—does she really want to let another one inside? Even though Noah is everything she ever wanted, can she really trust him? He seems like a good person, but her family’s genetic legacy is more important than romance.

When all their secrets are laid bare, Noah and Amelia discover that the survival of their species may be more dependent on love than either could have imagined. Civilization endures because of anonymous acts executed by ordinary individuals. And love, especially in the face of betrayal, is worth everything.

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What are people saying about Who Saw the Deep?

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist — April 2012:

This novel is well written, original, and clever. Noah Heath has just completed his doctorate in computer science and his father suggests he give himself a break and help a local senior citizen with some handyman chores. Amelia is a woman that Jaime Heath has known since childhood. On Noah’s first day of work, he notices a flash in the sky, a silver needle, but Amelia denies seeing it. Even so, he hears her call her daughter, Leah, saying,”it’s happening again.” When he returns home, his father starts telling him about the family “artifacts,” a few chunks of old metal. Noah starts to question, and more importantly, believe his father and Amelia’s tales of centuries old invasion and the part their forebears played in it. That the power of computers is limited only by our imaginations makes the tale convincing; the lack of little green men and the highly plausible abilities of the villains make it wonderful reading. It’s a pity to classify this book as science fiction; it reads more like the ancient myths, or even fairy tales. The author really knows his characters and uses them beautifully. Perhaps he’s had centuries to develop them.

~Publishers Weekly Review

The pitch is wonderful and engrossing. The belief “That civilization endures because of anonymous acts executed by ordinary individuals.”, holds more truth than most realize. There are hints of foreshadowing inserted in the narrative, hinting of what might occur. This helps bring a reader into the story and want to continue to turn the pages. The author does a credible job in describing how the characters act and what they are thinking. That along with the foreshadowing creates interest and a connection with the persons being described and the storyline. The reader has a chance, in many instances, to interpret what the individuals are feeling, instead of being told directly. The plot flows well, moving from the beginning and then into Noah’s house with his father. The expectation of what might happen builds from the beginning and makes a reader want to continue on.

~ ABNA Expert Reviewer – Amazon.com

Announcing Christine Klocek-Lim’s blog tour!

All tour dates are in June:

3 – Interview @ Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews

4 – Spotlight & Excerpt & Review @ Out there Reviews and Stuff

4 – Spotlight & Giveaway @ New Age Mama

5 – Interview @ Books in the Hall

6 – Spotlight & Review @ Indie Authors Books and More

7 – Review & Spotlight & Giveaway @ Fictional Candy

8 – Review  & Spotlight & @ Jez Jorge

10 – Spotlight & Extended Excerpt @ Karen Bynum

11 – Interview & Giveaway & Spotlight @ Deal Sharing Aunt

12 – Interview @ Sizzling Hot YA Books

13 – Guest Blog @ You Gotta Read

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To read an excerpt, click here.

  • Young Adult, Paranormal, Suspense, Romance
  • Word Count: 51,000
  • Published By: Evernight Teen

Description:

Emily just wanted a normal life: a boyfriend, college, two parents who loved her. Instead, her dad disappeared when she was fourteen and her life at college is anything but ordinary.

When you can manipulate matter like putty and you have no idea why, how do you pretend to be like everyone else? What happens when you meet a guy who has the same powers? Do you trust him to help you find the answers you need?

Emily desperately wants to believe that Jax can help, but the stakes grow higher than she’d ever expected: someone is after them and they’re not afraid to use violence to get what they want.

14+ for brief violence and adult situations

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Where to Buy: 

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Two free copies of Disintegrate!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Disintegrate by Christine  Klocek-Lim

Disintegrate

by Christine Klocek-Lim

Giveaway ends May 18, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

I’m giving away two copies of my bestselling young adult novel Disintegrate. If you’d like to win a free paperback, login to Goodreads and enter the giveaway!

If you don’t succeed this time, never fear… I’ll be doing more giveaways during the summer months. Here’s what people are saying about Disintegrate:

“The relationship between the two main characters, Emily and Jax, is marvellously dynamic and evolving.” — Brigita

“It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book in one sitting. Honestly, this is the only book I can think of that I read in one sitting. Awesome book.  …

1.) Awesome book!
2.) I’ve never actually read a book where the main character can manipulate matter, so that was a fun, new plot to discover.
3.) Holy shuck Jax marry me.” — Madison

“It’s a briskly paced and deftly plotted adventure of two teens with extraordinary powers. Strong characterizations, especially that of the female protagonist, Emily, give the short novel an emotional anchor. I particularly appreciated Emily’s decidedly un-Bella Swan blandness.” — Lyrics

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If you don’t want to wait for the giveaway, you can always buy it! It’s a bargain at $4.99 ebook pricing, and if you like print better, it’s $12.99.

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Where to Buy: 

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Description:

Emily just wanted a normal life: a boyfriend, college, two parents who loved her. Instead, her dad disappeared when she was fourteen and her life at college is anything but ordinary.

When you can manipulate matter like putty and you have no idea why, how do you pretend to be like everyone else? What happens when you meet a guy who has the same powers? Do you trust him to help you find the answers you need?

Emily desperately wants to believe that Jax can help, but the stakes grow higher than she’d ever expected: someone is after them and they’re not afraid to use violence to get what they want.

 

Thank you for reading

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My first young adult novel has been out for a few weeks and I’ve received some really nice reviews. I just wanted to say Thanks! to all those who have read it and posted their comments on various places (Amazon and Goodreads).

As a writer, I don’t think you can do this as a career unless you truly enjoy fooling around with words. Writing is filled with uncertainty, sporadic pay, and ego-crushing commentary from random people who don’t understand how much effort it takes to write a novel (or a book of poems). So, you really need to enjoy the act of writing in order to keep going. It’s like climbing a mountain, getting to the top, and then realizing you really only made it up the first little hill. The goal isn’t just reaching the top of the ridge so you can see the view. It’s hiking on the trail, too.

When you get a few reviews that specifically mention the characterization you worked so hard on and how the novel kept them turning the pages (or swiping the e-reader screen), it’s truly appreciated. Thanks everyone.

Disintegrate releasing April 19, 2013! – read an excerpt

My release date is official: April 19, 2013!

This is a lot sooner than I expected, but I’m thrilled. I’m sure I’ll have a cover reveal coming soon, but in the meantime, would you like to read an excerpt? If so, scroll down…

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Disintegrate, releasing April 19, 2013!

  • Young Adult, Paranormal, Suspense
  • Word Count: 51,000
  • Published By: Evernight Teen

Description:

Emily just wanted a normal life: a boyfriend, college, two parents who loved her. Instead, her dad disappeared when she was fourteen and her life at college is anything but ordinary.

When you can manipulate matter like putty and you have no idea why, how do you pretend to be like everyone else? What happens when you meet a guy who has the same powers? Do you trust him to help you find the answers you need?

Emily desperately wants to believe that Jax can help, but the stakes grow higher than she’d ever expected: someone is after them and they’re not afraid to use violence to get what they want.

Excerpt:

“I … think you’ve got the wrong impression of the two of us,” she mumbled. “We’re just friends.” And that’s all we’ll ever be, Emily told herself.

The woman shook her head. “No. I don’t think I do.” She wiped at the bar, nodding once as though making up her mind. “He’s a good kid.” She moved off, pouring a beer as she made her way down to the other end of the bar.

Emily blinked, confused by the bartender’s confidence. Jax sang on, oblivious to the conversation they were having about him only a few feet away.

And then the wall by the door exploded.

Emily froze for a split second while the bartender looked stupidly at the mess, then rushed for the stage, shoving through the few people beginning to realize something was very, very wrong. Jax hadn’t reacted and her first instinct was to get him to safety. She knew they were there for her, and she also knew they wouldn’t hesitate to destroy anyone near her in an effort to get to her. The best thing to do was get out.

Heart pounding, she grabbed him by the sleeve and dragged him down and off the stage. His guitar strap broke and the instrument hit the floor with a harsh twang. She winced, knowing it was his dad’s guitar, and important to Jax, but she didn’t stop. She couldn’t afford to do anything about it. Her skin was jumping and buzzing and she yanked—

Jax fell over her, hands raised, and Emily chanced a look back. There were three of them, huge and intent. Their faces were covered. One had a shotgun, oh God…

“Get down!” Jax yelled, shoving her over.

She ignored him, pulling until he had no choice but to follow. It was that or step on her. He still had his hands up. Something went boom—the gun, she thought—and then the staccato crunch of wood splintering around her bled through her panic. She shoved Jax ahead of her, hard. The door behind the stage hung ajar, and she stumbled for it, skin prickling as static arced around her fingers.

“Get back!” she panted, and Jax tripped. She tried to pull him up, but his muscular frame was too much for her thin frame. “Jax, you’ve gotta get up.”

He stared at her from the floor, dazed. A trickle of blood ran from a cut near his eye.

Was he hit? “Jax, get up!” she hissed.

Finally, he shoved off from the floor and staggered to his feet, falling against her. Not shot then, she thought, relieved. He wouldn’t be standing if he’d been seriously injured.

She tugged him down the dark hallway. When she looked back, she couldn’t believe they hadn’t been followed. Or at least not yet. Swallowing hard, she grabbed his hand, ignoring the electric tingle of his skin, and dragged him into the wall. He oofed as his head hit the paneling, but she had no time to worry about it. She pressed her fingers to the dirty surface and pushed, concentrating on dissolving the bonds of matter in her body and his. It wasn’t easy. She had to sort of push her energy into it, harder than she’d ever had to before. It felt a little like juggling upside down. She needed to hang onto him and release everything else, simultaneously. She had to keep his hand solid in hers while phasing their bodies out. For a moment, she thought she would fail or go mad, and then something clicked—

Thank God.

—her hands sank into the wall. She shuddered, hating the sticky feel of molecules sliding into her like this. One finger, one hand, no problem, but her entire body? That was creepy and weird. What she was doing wasn’t natural. Humans weren’t supposed to be able to shove pieces of themselves into pieces of other stuff, and here she was trying to shove her entire body, and Jax’s too, into the filthy inside of a bar wall. She almost sobbed … it was taking too long, they were coming—

—and then Jax’s fingers tightened around hers and it felt like electricity shooting into her bones. He gasped and then they fell into the wall together, their matter pressed into and within the wood and concrete and insulation.

Nausea rose. She fought it down. No time for that, she snarled to herself. No damn space for barfing. She gripped Jax’s hand, trying to keep still and quiet and think while also somehow conveying to him the need for calm. He could freak out later.

And he would, she knew. They were completely hidden, existing half in reality and half in the shadowy space between atoms that she’d been able to manipulate since forever. He would want to know how she did it. He would want do know why she’d dragged him into this.

A short, sharp boom echoed weirdly through her. They’d made it to the hall, though she couldn’t see them. She couldn’t see anything. Her eyes didn’t work inside the wall. Jax’s iron-willed calm filtered slowly through her veins, as if she could feel his emotions. God, this was completely horrible, she thought, willing the men to just go away. She needed to run—

—and then there was silence. She didn’t know how long it had been quiet, but Jax was pulling at her. She forced herself to think move and let go and enough and she stepped forward and out—

—and they fell into the hall, coughing. She stifled a gag, her right hand burning from the rough flooring. She’d just caught herself before her head hit the opposite wall.

“Jesus, what—” Jax choked, turning to her. He wouldn’t let go of her hand.

“We need to see if they’re gone,” she managed, rubbing her face on her shoulder. Her knees hurt. She felt filthy, as if she’d ingested the dirt that penetrated every portion of the wall.

Jax leaned down and put his free hand flat on the floor. He closed his eyes.

Emily stared. What was he doing?

A second later he shook his head. “Everyone is gone.” He grimaced. “Or dead.”

“How—” she began to ask, but then the skin on her hand prickled, the one he still held. Jax looked at her arm. She looked at his palm. Tiny sparks arced between them, silver stars that made no sense.