Graphic Public Service Announcement

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If I were in charge of the posters in airports, train stations and tram stops, they might look something like this.


Or like this:


I might even get a bit preachy.


Or blunt and demanding.


Okay. I’ll admit that this blogpost is inspired by my recent caving in to yet another social media platform: Instagram. I ignored it for years based on its’ name alone. As a writer, I savor a well-written article, short-story or book. I enjoy taking the time for a story to unfold on the page. Instagram was for me the antithesis of this idea.

As you can see by my little image gallery here, I’ve been using the app Phoster to combine words and images for my Instagram posts. I have to admit, it’s been fun.

Speaking of fun, the proof for my second novel The Things We Said in Venice just shipped. Any bloggers or columnists who are into reviewing books, please let me know if you’d like a review copy.

Any readers up for a light, travel romance, my second novel should be available to order by mid-May! The cover of my second novel is still a secret, but if I were to announce it’s pending arrival in Instagram terms . . .

Steelies and Other Endangered Species A five-star read

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Author Kristin Anderson’s Review of Steelies and Other Endangered Species: Stories on Water

It is a bit tricky taking a well-written book on vacation as once you begin, it can be a bit demanding of your time. Should I go for a hike in the California sunshine or read another chapter? Shall I stay up late with friends chatting about life or sneak off to that rocking chair in their living room and resume reading to see if that main character gives into his vice? Rebecca Lawton’s latest novel Steelies and other Endangered Species: Stories on Water, is the perfect solution for my summer vacation reading companion. Each short story provides the satisfaction of a full reading experience, yet you are easily compelled to read on, not by tricks of plot and craftsmanship, but by the promise of another beautiful nature-based story ready to unfold.

Steelies-front-cover-design1-675x1024What I like about Lawton’s writing in Steelies is the simplicity and pace. Like water in a well-fed stream, the words in each of the fifteen short stories in this compilation spill out effortlessly, taking you along in their current of storytelling. Take the first sentence of short story “A Real Cafe” for instance:

“You may think someone’s your opposite–neat where you’re messy, tough where you’re tender–until you run a river with him.”

You know immediately that this story will be about being on the water, but also about insights into human nature and compatibility when faced with the forces of a river. And considering author Rebecca Lawton was “one of the first women guides on Western whitewater, and an oarswoman on the Colorado in Grand Canyon and other rivers for fourteen seasons,” you know she writes about the experience with authority.

Our vacation this year has included a five-day journey to the Grand Canyon, driving through Navajo land, seeing glimpses of isolated desert life as well as distant vistas of the Colorado river where some of the stories in Steelies  take place. What a blessing to read Steelies under the very landscapes that inspired the writing!

Released on June 18, 2014, Steelies and Other Endangered Species is hot off the press (Little Curlew Press) and has thus far garnered only five star reviews on Amazon. I guess I’m going to have to join the band wagon raft on the five stars! Lawton brings not only her white water rafting experience to her writing, but also her MFA in Creative Writing coupled with a hard science background as a geologist. No wonder she can write just as fluidly about love and attraction as she can about Steelhead Salmon, paleontologists and geologists. Take this passage from short story “The Road to Bonanza” starring a female geologist.

“Utah was wild and stripped to the bone. Strange and beautiful–rock exposed everywhere, naked and honest. The few trees were the size of mere shrubs, casting scant shadows, nothing like the deep, oak-filled woods back home. Even the colors of the earth were different here: hills of orange, spires of red, stripes of yellow in bald topography that stretched to every horizon.”

Who else but Lawton, a creative writer & geologist, could describe rock and topography in such prose?

Lawton is not afraid to throw love and passion into the mix. In her compilation namesake short story Steelies about a naturalist dubbed “Fish Lady” by the non eco-minded locals, a love story unfolds that addresses one of the other Endangered Species–environmentalists doing the right thing against all odds.

I highly recommend Steelies and other Endangered Species: Stories on Water as a thoughtful, enjoyable read that will take you on many memorable natural journeys. It may just leave you longing to spend more time in nature, while deepening your appreciation for all of God’s creations, whether it be the mountain lion, Steelhead, the rolling river or the person you love.

 

Lawton

Author Rebecca Lawton

More about Rebecca Lawton:

Rebecca Lawton is an author and natural scientist whose poetry and prose have won a Fulbright award, the Ellen Meloy Fund Award for Desert Writers, residencies at Hedgebrook Retreat for Writers and The Island Institute, and nominations for three Pushcart Prizes.

Rebecca’s collection of essays about whitewater guiding, Reading Water: Lessons from the River, was a San Francisco Chronicle Bay Area bestseller in 2008 and ForeWord Nature Book of the Year finalist in 2003. She is co-author of five books on creativity and the outdoors, most recently Sacrament: Homage to a River with photographer Geoff Fricker (Heyday, 2014). Her debut novel, Junction, Utah, explores the impact of oil exploration on American community, water, and wilderness (van Haitsma Literary, 2013). Her short story collection, Steelies and Other Endangered Species: Stories on Water, is forthcoming from Little Curlew Press.

One of the first women guides on Western whitewater, Rebecca was an oarswoman on the Colorado in Grand Canyon and other rivers for fourteen seasons. Her work as a scientist has focused on water resources and sediment. Currently she serves on the Board of Directors for Friends of the River, as an external advisor for the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Program at Sonoma State University, and on the Natural Resources Committee for Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen, California.

 

This review was written by Kristin Anderson, author of Green. Feel free to share this review on your own website.

The axe, the horn, the reviewer

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I have been writing recently not about my own novel, but about the beautiful writing of author Michael Cunningham, the insightful Crater Lake series by Francis Guenette, great mother’s day presents and environmental organizations in The Hague. Well, sometimes on an author blog you need to mix it up and toot your own horn.

Tooting your own horn can have two meanings in this context. Those who have known me in years past may now have a vision of an alto saxophone in my hands, my lungs expanding as I break into a solo while playing with an indy band. Yes, that used to be my creativity. Sax was my axe.

But in recent years, my passion for music and connecting to others through song has given way to a new form of connection; writing, whether through my author blog, my expat blog or my debut novel Green. The difference between playing a live gig and interacting with the audience and writing a blog post or a book are too numerous to count. But there is one big difference: time.

If you nail a solo, or sing that third part harmony in tune, people respond instantly with clapping, a nod, or a follow-up comment on how much they enjoyed the performance this evening. Sometimes words are not even necessary to convey appreciation or dismay. Body language speaks volumes. With blog posts, people read, but don’t always comment. Those who do comment display a certain daring to enter into the written word–a comment on a post that is now present on the internet, linked to your profile in some manner, a digital footprint of your existence.

Dropping a quick comment of “sweet solo” or “enjoyed the performance tonight,” is a zen moment in time without a history or a future. That is the beauty of music. Recordings, whether CDs or YouTube videos, can be listened to again and again. Books are locked to the page and are usually only read once, twice if you’re extremely lucky. But for all the people who have read my book, many have given me verbal feedback or quick little Facebook comments of “loved it”, “it was awesome,” reminiscent of the friendly compliments a musician might receive; compliments that are in the moment. Oh what an author would give to turn those quick compliments into written reviews. Why? Not for the ego (okay, a little for the ego), but for the fact that reviews beget new readers. And that is what all writers want: people to read their work; the more the better.

And so, when I discovered this review on Amazon.co.uk from a complete stranger, I had to share it with you, and toot my own horn. Luckily, this review doesn’t give my debut novel GREEN the axe. On the contrary; it shows that somewhere in England there is a reader who understands me as a writer of fiction, saw the characters within the novel growing before her eyes, and appreciated the presentation of the eco message in my novel Green. If any of you out there who have read my novel need a little inspiration to write a review, here it is!

Posted June 17, 2014 on Amazon.co.uk. (five stars)

The fact Anderson’s novel is described upfront as a ‘romance’ book is almost a disservice to what is in fact, a novel that transcends the rigid romance genre. ‘Green’ has been written with real literary insight and intelligence.

Our two protagonists are city dweller Ellie Ashburn, who indulges in a consumerist lifestyle, surrounded by friends, while her time is occupied with an ascendant career. Despite this, Ellie still holds traditional values close to her heart which is apparent after a series of unsuccessful relationships with LA men leave her despondent. Ellie is about ready to give up on love altogether until she meets environmental activist Jake Tillerman. And thus the setting for our romantic backdrop is revealed.

Despite the odds, the two fall for one another in the kind of way that would have E.L. James’ temperature rise – however, the relationship between Ellie and Jake provides more than a romantic romp, it is the perfect narrative arc to engage the audience in political diatribes and discussions which bring to the fore eco-concerns about how the way we live impacts on the environment.

It is important to note that the novel never becomes a sermon on Anderson’s part to force environmental issues down the throats of readers, and this is shown through a series of comedic, passionate and frustrating events which take place as the couple grow closer. This is how Anderson really showcases her talent as a writer, she makes both of our heroes likeable, honest, human and never one dimensional. As readers we learn from selective narrative how each character has come to see the world and define it, while examining what it means to compromise and relate to one another within this.

‘Green’ is a multi-faceted novel that is both informative and entertaining!

A wonderful way to end 2013!

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Dear literary and romantically-minded peeps. I will always remember 2013 as the year I published my debut novel. That only happens once! I figured my milestones for the year had come to a close, until I saw this tweet by The Oaktree Factory, a fabulous Hague-based photographer: 

The most inspiring people of 2013: record label @sniprecords, writer @AuthorKristin, and distillery Audemus Spirits! #followyourdreams

The idea that I actually made a “most inspiring people of 2013 list” in my role as an author is an incredible compliment. I am so thankful and humbled by this! Now I’m going to go check out sniprecords and Audemus Spirits!

Here is to an inspiring 2014 for all of you!

~Author Kristin Anderson

 

 

50% off my ebook GREEN through tomorrow!

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I like to write posts of a more contemplative, informative nature, but just now, I have very timely news; the Kindle version of my debut novel GREEN is 50% off from now until December 23, 2013. This means that if you have been thinking about getting my book GREEN and you have an e-reader, strike while the iron price is hot! Because at 11:59 pm (23:59) on December 23, 2013, this sale will be over.

Here’s a few quotes from reader reviews that might add to your curiosity:

I had a hard time putting this novel down. Green’s characters were compelling and likeable. Not only was it a very satisfying, engrossing story but it left me as a reader more inspired to “take the Challenge” in my own life. If you want a ‘fun read’ that makes you think and inspires you to act, read this book! ~reader review, December 18, 2013

Anderson manages to be highly romantic yet somehow realistic, unabashedly optimistic yet somehow wise, and always fun! Emotionally and intellectually satisfying good read. ~reader review, December 18, 2013

You can also purchase an e-book for a friend, and what better time then when it’s 50% off? Please tell your friends and thanks for spreading the word!

Author Kristin Anderson

The glories of e-book reading

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I sold some expensive jewelry from an ex  and purchased an iPad earlier this year. That one purchase transformed the way I consume fiction. Let’s just say that some people compulsively shop when lured in by tantalizing window displays and an appropriately placed sales sign and others are lured into the amazon.com kindle store, where books can be automatically downloaded. I fall into the latter category.

The biggest problem I’m facing? “Buy now with One-click.” Oh, that little yellow button. What is a girl-who-loves-to-read to do but click, click?

Here are some of the books I’ve purchased this year and enjoyed:

Black and Abroad by Carolyn Vines (autobiography with a good dose of humor and real life insight into being black in America and abroad).

Delusions for Breakfast by Kate Johnston (hilarious, subtle, deliciously written book about food and life).

Just This Once by Rosalind James (Burning hot romance set in New Zealand, this author keeps you flipping the pages and buying sequels, and yes, I’m admitting this in public!)

Crazy Little Thing by Tracy Brogan (Hilarious, well written romance sprinkled throughout with wit, passion and laugh-out-loud moments of absurdity).

Open City by Teju Cole ( a rambling, beautifully written anti-story–lacks cohesiveness–about a young Nigerian doctor doing his residency in New York who takes nightly walks through the city. Still not my favorite book, but the story and characters linger–which mean it redeems itself in some way. And to give it creds, the critics love it.)

Fifty Shades of Gray Kale by Drew Ramsey, M.D. (A wit-filled recipe book extolling the extreme goodness of leafy greens by a doctor who capitalizes on a copycat title to boost his ratings.)

This is just a sampling of the 26 books I’ve purchased this year and read outside my book club choices (only one overlaps).  At least I’m not talking about 26 pairs of shoes, or 26 cashmere sweaters. But what I like about reading e-books, is that you can highlight passages you like, look words up instantly online and make the reading experience interactive. And if I read it a second time, I can delete previously highlighted sections; something I can’t really do in my hardback and paperback copies. Since I have a screen with light, I can read in bed after I’ve wrestled the iPad away from my son (I swear he transforms into an Angry Bird whenever I ask for my iPad back) and I can continue reading after my husband has fallen asleep without disturbing him.

As an author, I am glad that my book GREEN is available in both Kindle and print format. Seeing as the print version has to be printed, it is of course, less environmentally friendly. On the other hand, it is a print-on-demand title, which means it is only printed if ordered–thus no wasteful stacks of unsold books waiting around for a reader.

I’ve priced the Kindle version at 60% less than the print version. Why? Because I actually want people to READ the book, and by offering a low kindle price, I can hopefully eliminate one barrier. My print version is priced as low as possible to cover printing costs and enable me to earn a small royalty.  Once again, my pricing decisions were based on the following premise: books are meant to be read and enjoyed and accessible to all.

Despite my new found love of e-books, print will continue to be my favorite. I especially enjoy my reminiscent strolls by the bookcase where I can touch upon a book like a long-lost friend, remembering the experience I had within its pages. Seeing all of those spines lined up on the shelf, uncategorized and jumbled together, I see a flash of my  interests presented in a spectrum of colors and shapes. An eBook just can’t replicate that experience.

Five Days

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It is the sort of cold and dreary weather that is meant for authors and readers alike; tea-drinking, curl up and read or write sort of weather–indulge in the adventures within the book or within your mind.

Five days ago, I had a day, that if I write it up, will seem exaggerated in it’s perfection. It was a day where everything clicked. I had an interview scheduled with Lily-Anne Stroobach from Dutch Buzz about my debut novel GREEN. I was working in the church and had about twenty small, detailed tasks I wanted to finish before heading to the interview. I was able to accomplish almost all of them. As I finished my last email, my husband came over and reminded me I should head out now if I wanted to be on time. I asked him if he could make me a sandwich for the road, since I had to travel across The Hague and hadn’t predicted a growling stomach. Instead of rolling his eyes, he actually made me the sandwich, and even transferred my latte into a to go cup.

My tram pass was where it should be, my keys didn’t play hide and seek with me, my cell phone was actually charged and easy to find. As I slipped on my coat and headed toward the door, my husband handed me my sandwich and latte like a sexy personal assistant, and rather than looking emasculated by the experience, he was all confidence and full of encouragement.

I walked to the tram stop and within one minute, the tram arrived. Pulling in to Den Haag Centraal, my connecting tram also arrived within seconds. I stepped from one tram and walked to the platform, as if the world were aligning for me. The tram headed into an area of The Hague I had never encountered, and as I looked out on small shops and squares, I felt the excitement of one on a journey in a new city: senses alert, in the moment, drinking in the new impressions with the same thankfulness and pleasure as as one gulping water after a hard workout to rejuvenate the body. I wasn’t sure how many more stops, so I called Lily-Anne, who answered quickly, and told me it was the very next stop.

The interview went smoothly and Lily-Anne proved to be a fascinating South African Dutch woman, whose open personality and frankness clicked with mine. The ride home was another flawless journey, with trams lining up with such precision, it seemed they were ordered just for me.

When I went to pick up my son at school, I thought of a mom I needed to talk to. Just then, a little red car pulled up, parked, and out stepped said mom, directly in my path.

I headed back into the church to finish up a bit of work, and one of the church members who works in finance happened to come by. He told me that they would be paying me the balance of my bonus for the year at the end of the month. I won’t bore you, but the entire day continued in this manner–sales of my book popping up on the online reports, my son happy, time with my husband in the evening.

I realized this was a miracle of sorts, this day. And like a gambler who finally hit the jack pot, I wanted more days like this, and said something to that effect on Facebook. But my friend Kirsten Klitgaard pointed out in response: “Don’t get greedy, Kristin. I’m still waiting for ONE!” True. Point well taken. I truly enjoyed this day and the thought occurred to me, why today? Why me? Are there people who run around life with many days like this? Is this the Power of Positive Thinking? The Law of Attraction? A little teasing by the Universe? God moving just the tip of her pinky in my direction? But I don’t recall doing any particular meditations, or especially trying to be in the moment–it just simply was.

Five days from now, Saturday, November 16th, is my Official Book Launch party. I have always dreamed of writing a book. I have started over a dozen, but only ever finished one. So this book launch is a great moment in life, however it plays itself out.

It still feels far away. My life is just continuing along with all the sundry lists and responsibilities of daily life. But I know that this coming Saturday, there will be this event. It will happen in one form or another, and then life will move forward; this too shall pass.

As an author, I am thankful for all of you who have delved into my novel, getting to know the characters within, living with them in your mind and following them along on their journeys. I am thankful to those of you who have taken the time to share your thoughts on my book, have shared it with friends, who are taking the time to write reviews on Amazon. And I’m so excited to see what Saturday will bring! Who will purchase my book this day, who will log on to google+ and find Author Kristin Anderson and join a hangout with me.

If you are interested in hearing the interview on Dutchbuzz.nl, you can tune into the hour long program tonight (Tuesday, November 12th, 2013) at 22:00 (DUTCH TIME) on Den Haag FM 92.0. Or the broadcast will be available tomorrow on http://www.dutchbuzz.nl after 12:00.

See you in five days?