Sharing the Love

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Most authors love to read. So it goes without saying that authors read other author’s works. Of course they do. Otherwise we’d be reading books written by robots. On occasion, real authors interview other real authors and write reviews.

In this case I’m not being hypothetical, but sharing a fact. Case in point; after reading my second novel The Things We Said in Venice, talented YA author NJ Simmonds interviewed me for her blog! It was a great experience that I’d like to share with all of you. Click on the title below to read the interview and her thoughts on my novel.

Romance & Europe – with Author Kristin Anderson

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You can also learn more about NJ Simmonds and her debut novel The Path Keeper, Book One in a YA fantasy-Romance series by clicking here. I enjoyed this novel so much, that I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up writing about it on my author blog in the future!

 

Dissecting Fear

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This week I did something pretty damned scary. article-0-142711FE000005DC-668_634x330

I went skydiving and it was fantastic! What a freaking RUSH!

Okay. No I didn’t. That’s not me. It’s Sian Stokes, a total stranger featured in an article about insurance.

You extreme sports folks who just got sucked in by that photo should just tune out now, because you’ll find me rather dull when you read my version of pretty damned scary.

For those of you who are still with me, my adrenaline-filled moment involved a microphone, headset and a big red button that said “on the air.”

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Author Kristin Anderson (left) with Lilly-Anne Stroobach, Dutchbuzz Radio FM 92.0 The Hague

It all went down at the studio of Den Haag FM 92.0 for a program called Dutchbuzz. This weekly radio show in The Hague is designed to inform internationals about news and events taking place in their city. I’ve listened to the show enough times to know that it has a friendly, yet professional style. It’s informative, fast-paced and they seem to have a bent for arts, culture and environmental issues. They have a broad audience and the show is in English. In other words, it’s just my cup of tea.

So when Lilly-Anne Stroobach, the founder of Dutchbuzz invited me to the studio for an interview about my second novel The Things We Said in Venice, naturally I jumped at the chance.  But, there’s a but. I can talk for hours about topics I love, but put a microphone in front of me and I kind of choke up. Can you relate to that fear? There are no take-twos, no revisions. As a writer, I’m all about revisions.

But what the hell. Sometimes–actually a lot of the time–we have to step out of our comfort zone and just go for it. As the producer did a silent countdown on her fingers as a commercial came to an end, we were suddenly on. I stared that microphone down and took a few centering breaths as Lilly-Anne introduced me as a Hague author. She had read my novel in the course of a few days, and as she began to talk about it, it was clear she found it worth the read.

When she compared The Things We Said in Venice to Eat, Pray, Love, I couldn’t help but say thank you. I like good company.

When she recommended it to all of the radio listeners and announced she planned to recommend it to her book club as well, I felt my shoulders relaxing.  As I began to answer her questions, ponder aloud my motives for placing certain elements in the book, share why I chose characters in their thirties and early forties rather than teenage vampires, I realized I had stopped dissecting my fear and had stepped into the role of author talking about her writing process.  I had jumped out of that plane of safety and into the “on the air” and it was actually kind of fun.

Want to hear the interview? Then click here. It’s only a few minutes long and starts just before minute 17 in this podcast.

If you live in The Hague or surrounding area, I recommend listening to the whole show. You can learn about up and coming events–including a beer festival this weekend and a locally grown farmer’s market called Lekker Nassau. You can tune in to Dutchbuzz every Tuesday evening at 10:00pm to hear the live show at Den Haag FM 92.0, or catch the podcast Wednesday afternoon.

Thanks for letting me share this story about conquering fear, if only for a few minutes on the air. Considering I survived this, I might just do something even more daring.

After all, live radio interviews are the gateway drug to dolphin riding.

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European Extreme Sports

 

An alternate World in 6 Hours and 9 Minutes

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Book sales are nice of course. But to a writer, they are more than just sales. They are the equivalent of one more person, sooner or later, entering the fictitious world you spent a few years creating. This unknown reader will meet the characters that live there and have their own interactions and responses to them, be privy to every conversation and inner thought, every intimate

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Catherine Nelson: Future Memories

moment that unfolds between your characters, accompany your characters through their heartache, laughter, embarrassment, growth. They will explore the settings, the background, the cultural narrative, the messages that unfold. In other words, you will take a total stranger on an intimate journey through your words.
In many cases, readers keep their experience of that journey to themselves. Unless they are someone you know personally who wants to share, or someone who tends to write reviews, you will never know how those few hours
(or 6 hours, 9 minutes in the case of my second novel) affected them.
What a strange, and fairly new phenomenon!

New? Books have been around forever! Well, not really. The ancient Egyptians wrote on papyrus, Sumerians on stone tablets, monks eventually sat hunched over little tables, hand-copying or producing original books, followed by wood tablet technology. But it wasn’t until  Johannes Gutenberg introduced the printing press to Europe way back in 1439, that the printing revolution really began. Before and after this time, many people shared stories through the oral tradition. Thus the storyteller was engaged with a rapt audience, could work the stage, adjust the cadence of his story as needed, incorporate the name of a village to make the story personal.

Storytellers like Michael Katz still practice the ancient art of story telling and have the

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Story teller Michael Katz: photo by Larry Mills

ability to engage their audience directly, enthralling audiences wherever they go.
Storytelling is still very much alive when we get together with friends and share our lives and experiences.
But those of us storytellers who share our stories through the written word quite often miss the chance to engage with our audience–except at “meet the author” events and book signings.

Yet social media brings that chance back to the forefront. It’s not as intimate as having a storyteller standing before you, but you can join Facebook groups to discuss a novel with the author, drop them a tweet or talk to others who have been on that journey as well, without spoiling the story for anyone else who hasn’t read it yet. (What would Shakespeare, Jane Austen or Orson Welles have been like in a Facebook author chat group?)

As an author, some of my most cherished moments are when someone talks to me about the characters in my novels as if those characters are real people. On Saturday,  I stopped by the local tea shop to drop off a flyer for my upcoming book signing of The Things We Said in Venice (Saturday, May 20th at the ABC Bookstore The Hague, The Netherlands from 3:00-5:00p.m. in case you wanted to know). The owner of the tea shop came up to me and greeted me enthusiastically.
“I just LOVE your novel! It’s so well-written. Fokke and Sarah seem so real. I can’t put it down.” He went on like this in some detail. He didn’t exactly ignore his customers, but he certainly took the time to tell me his thoughts, and I felt the excitement of sharing a world with someone who appreciated it. How often does that happen?

Book sales are nice, but it is the anticipation of this sort of interaction that keeps us writers looking at the numbers. How many books have sold today? As the numbers slowly crawl higher, there’s a sense of excitement at the knowledge that someone else will soon enter this fictitious world we’ve created.

But as April clicks over to May, or May clicks over to June, the total count starts all over again. This means that on day 1 of a new month, an author runs the chance of being confronted with a big fat 0 in the morning, where a double digit stood just the evening before. This is a good reminder that in the digital age, a writer, self-published or not, has to have their cheerleading, look-my-way hat on more often than they wish. They need to get their novels not only in the hands of new readers, but to the press, to reviewers, in the news. I’m sure at some point, the sales take care of themselves, but in the meantime, we need to be not only authors, but shakers and movers.

Screenshot 2017-05-02 20.12.49It’s also good to remember what counts. In the right hand corner of my WordPress screen, there is a little icon with a pen that says WRITE. It is a simple icon used to start a new post, but I view it as a reminder of one of the most basic principles of being a writer. WRITE: Every day, twice a day, wherever and whenever you can fit it in. But in the mean time, there are 291 pages consisting of 83,825 words of storytelling just waiting for you. And millions more by other authors in bookstores, libraries, online, on your own bookshelf, just waiting for the right moment for you two to meet.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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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