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.

 

 

 

 

An Author Without Readers is Like a . . .

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An author without readers is like a Thanksgiving dinner without anyone to join in the feast. If you have prepared such an extravagant meal, you know all that goes into it. You get out all those cherished recipes and introduce new ones, develop the menu, do the shopping, invite the guests–all that before you even start cooking. I haven’t even mentioned cleaning the house or decorating the table.

Imagine a book as a meal that was two years in the making. Some of the dishes–cranberry sauce, turkey or ham (or vegan option), stuffing, pecan pie–remain the same. In my genre of contemporary romance the core ingredients translate to two people who we hope will fall in love, obstacles and suspense along the way and eventually a happily ever after or some version thereof. But all of the dishes are reinvented each time.

I created a world for my two main characters as well as a host of sub characters and took them on a journey throughout Europe. A core group of readers experienced the story and provided feedback. I re-wrote and revised. Finally, the story was complete and I invited guests to the table.

And you showed up! Not only did you show up, but just like a Thanksgiving dinner, you devoured my years of hard work in a matter of days. Some of you took the time to write reviews of your experience, with the hope of encouraging others to read my novel. And I can’t thank you enough!

Just like a restaurant needs new customers to stay open, an author not only needs their core readers, but also needs to reach new readers outside of their circle. This can help them establish enough of a readership for them to step more fully into the role of author. In other words: Enjoy a book? Don’t forget to tell your friends.

On that note, I have selected two customer reviews of The Things We Said in Venice listed on Amazon.com to share with you. One from author Francis Guenette and one from a male reader. You can see all of the current reviews by clicking on this link.

HERE ARE TWO CUSTOMER REVIEWS

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Real people involved in real life struggles against the backdrop of some wonderful tourist locales – The Things We Said in Venice – is not your typical bodice-ripping romance, though there are some steamy spots to keep things interesting! Not to mention language mishaps that will have most readers in stitches.

Sarah – betrayed in a marriage that wasn’t all that great to begin with; Fokke – similarly betrayed but also denied his dream of fatherhood – the author manages to make these two characters refreshingly unique while at the same time, making them real people that many readers will relate to. Sarah’s penchant for fuzzy pink clothing and Fokke’s chair collection, quirky traits but ultimately endearing and memorable.

Things to love about this book: enough suspense to keep the reader going, authentic relationships and issues, travel adventures, an exploration of an unlikely pair of people meeting in a serendipitous way and maybe having a shot at being more than a traveller’s fling. You’ll have to read Kristen Anderson’s book to find out!

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Yes, I admit it. I am a man and I read romance novels. Sometimes of the trashy variety and sometimes more sub genre specific, but I loved “Green” by Kristin Anderson, so I couldn’t wait to read “The Things We Said in Venice”.

The story is captivating and full of great tidbits for those of us who enjoy traveling the world, but my favorite things about the book are the depth of the characters and how the subtle message of social responsibility with respect to living in harmony with our planet is woven into the narrative.

Most of all, I think that the author really “gets” men. So often in romance stories men are portrayed as emotionally unreadable billionaire types or controlling jerks who want to dominate their women. The male lead character, Fokke, is none of these things, but a real man that the gender can identify with. Our heroine, Sarah, has been through so much yet she is strong, determined, independent and burns with inner beauty. This is what real men are drawn to.

And so, Kristin Anderson has done it again: Drawn me into a world of characters that I came to love and care about in the span of two days; all while subliminally weaving ideas into my mind that small changes in my lifestyle with respect to my effect on the planet can make a tangible difference in how we all live well in this world.

I can’t wait for the next story…


17311457_10154268386862213_983549551_oU.S. readers can order a copy of the The Things We Said in Venice here. If you live in the UK, click here to order. Anywhere else in Europe, it makes the most sense to order the print copy from Amazon Germany. Kindle version is available in all Amazon stores.

Book release is Saturday, May 20th, 2017
American Book Center in The Hague
Lange Poten 23
from 15.00-17.00