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

Catherine-Nelson-Future-Memories-1

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.

 

 

 

 

Birth Announcement: Baby Number Two!

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I know a lot of you are thinking “Gosh, I didn’t even know you were pregnant!” But I have been for a couple of years now, in a figurative “authorly” way. I had written my second novel with a planned due date of May 2nd, 2017. But just this week, she decided May 2nd was just too far away.

When I approved the final version to order print books for a May book signing, I accidentally released her nine weeks early!

I’m sure there are marketing gurus out there who would say; “never admit to such a mistake!” But I view it differently. Sometimes, your baby decides to come into the world before the expected delivery date, and when that happens, you roll with it. Just to clarify, she is fully baked. She has been proofed and edited and formatted and properly clothed. She’s just . . . a premie.

The first order of business, now that I’ve gotten over the shock, is to send you all an official birth announcement:

Want to celebrate this wondrous experience with me? Then by all means, please schedule a visit by clicking on this link to order your copy now (Kindle or Print version). If you live outside the U.S. and you prefer a more tactile reading experience, it is best to order it from your Amazon store in your country or region, or order it directly from your local bookstore to support bricks and mortar business. You can also click on the links to the right of this post.

One last announcement. My son (the human type) hopes you will all order a copy. What a sweet, supporting child, you think! (Disclaimer: I promised him that after my 100th sale I’d get him a new Lego set. He’s suddenly very interested in how sales are going.

Thanks for your time!

Kristin Anderson

 

 

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!

Author Kristin Anderson’s double book review: Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies

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Earlier this year, I announced that I would be delving into the world of Indy author book reviews. Since then I have acquired a diverse array of reading material, and it was difficult to choose whom to read first. But then I came upon the intriguing Crater Lake series by Indy Author Francis L. Guenette. Set in a lake side community in Canada, the Crater Lake Series currently comprises: Disappearing in Plain Sight (January 2013, Friesen Press) and The Light Never Lies (2014 Friesen Press).

Disappearing in Plain Sight by Francis Guenette

When I read the first chapter of Disappearing in Plain Sight, I knew that author Francis Guenette was an accomplished writer, but I was worried that I had signed up to read a teen romance. Instead, I discovered a book that explores relationships between friends, lovers, personal identity and the myriad factors that shape a person’s current existence. Tales of love play out in various forms from unrequited love, struggling and successful. I enjoyed the cast of multi-faceted characters so thoroughly, that I delved right into Guenette’s sequel, The Light Never Lies; thus my double book review.

But before I start talking about the second title, I would like to acknowledge the refreshing setting and pace of book one, Disappearing in Plain Sight. Guenette’s easy writing style pulls you into the Crater Lake community in Northern Vancouver Island, Canada. Whether it is the wind blowing through the trees, the play of light on the lake’s surface, swimming or fishing or the hours spent in Izzy’s prolific garden, nature is a prominent force in this novel, creating a dynamic backdrop to everyday life.  Just as nature can be at one moment calm and peaceful and the next full of excitement and impending danger, a similar tumultuous landscape exists within the psychological make up of Guenette’s characters.

Due to the remote setting and the introduction of a handful of fast friends, I was expecting a slow-paced novel where characters lazily unfold, each chapter bringing more depth and history alive. Guenette does just this. But, what I found clever and unique about this book concept, is the contrast of the local crew with the clients of Micah Camp.

Micah Camp is not a typical kid’s summer camp. It is an accredited counseling center / residential program for young adults between 18 and 22 who have been through the often traumatic foster care system and need extra help transitioning to university and / or a career. Micah Camp helps these at-risk youth by providing a comprehensive counseling, assessment and job placement program. Many of these kids wear their past traumas like armor, and their often fast-paced lifestyles and hardened outlooks on life contrast greatly to the slow and ambling pace of the locals. Or so it seems.

By locating this camp within the idyllic lakeside community, she creates a juxtaposition of the locals outside the world of counseling and those within. These two worlds intersect through the presence of Izzy Montgomery, a Micah Camp counselor and Crater Lake resident. Attractive and compassionate, Izzy is the axis that ties the two worlds together and the cause of many a fluttering and frustrated heart. The further you are drawn into the personal histories of each character, the line between those within and those without begins to blur, as if the author is telling us that every human that has lived has a past to be reckoned with, and could benefit from a bit of soul searching combined with the helpful ear of a counselor to walk you through. It also becomes obvious that counselors don’t always come in the form of a person with a degree in the field. For example, Liam Collins, a middle-aged Native American man who runs the local saw mill isn’t much of a talker, but has the ability to fully listen and be present for others.

The author’s personal work history—Guenette has worked as a trauma counselor and researcher and has a master’s in Counseling Psychology—shines through in the writing. She fleshes out the characters with such thoroughness that they become people you think about long after you have closed the book. I recommend this book and found it a thoroughly enjoyable read.

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The Light Never Lies by Francis Guenette

The Light Never Lies  by Francis Guenette

The Light Never Lies brings back the full cast of characters from book one and throws in a whole new line up of characters and problems that bring chaos into the previously well-ordered world of Izzy Montgomery and her friends.

At first, I was frustrated by the sheer number of new characters. It felt unsettling, like there were just too many stories to follow. And then, like an overworked counselor, I threw my hands up in the air and began to accept the new reality, right along with the characters in the book.

Guenette adds a new element of suspense and insight through the introduction of Robbie, a young boy and half-brother to one of the lead characters with a special talent. Through his eyes, the readers gain insight and foreshadowing into events that will play out, and access to feelings and connections that exist between characters that they themselves haven’t yet realized.

Not only is the cast crowded in book two, but the pace is notched a few decibels higher with elements of impending danger taking the story in the direction of a thriller.

Although some may feel that The Light Never Lies could be read as a stand alone novel, I see great benefit in reading this series chronologically. I liken it to the following; if you had a chance to go back in time and gain personal insight into past experiences that shaped the way your friend or lover interacts with the world, wouldn’t you take it?

Guenette’s ability to get inside the heads of so many characters and express their inner workings in a believable manner makes The Light Never Lies a pleasure to read. Yet, the reading experience is not limited to interior thoughts. She puts the daily pace of life into the book by covering the simple things that fill the daily worlds of the characters, thus grounding the story in reality.

At the end of book two, Guenette resolves a fair amount of conflicts, but leaves enough open ended threads dangling to keep readers pining for more.  But you will have to be patient, because book three is not expected to be out before 2015.

I recommend The Light Never Lies but for the full reading experience, strongly suggest starting with Disappearing in Plain Sight.  For more information on author Francis Guenette, please visit her on Goodreads, or on her blog http://disappearinginplainsight.com. You can purchase her books on Amazon.com

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk and Indy authors support Indy authors.
Interested in submitting your Indy book for review by author Kristin Anderson? Please see the guidelines outlined in the post linked here

Angolan Sun

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I just wrote a post on my expat blog about weather, emotions and connection to others that was inspired by a simple tram ride into the downtown area of The Hague to drop off a flyer for my book Green. But the post is just as relevant here on my author blog. Thus, here is a link.

Angolan Sun

As always, I appreciate your feedback and readership.

Author Kristin Anderson

12 Great Indy Books to be highly recommended in 2014: is yours one of them?

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How many of you have read a great Indy author  in the last few years who really surprised you with their smooth writing, compelling plot and beautiful prose? Was it a great work of literature? Or perhaps a fun, yet witty romance that made you laugh, cry and fall in love? A book that kept you thinking about the transformation of the characters within the pages long after you finished?  Did you want to share that author with others, but weren’t comfortable writing reviews? Or perhaps you have written such a book yourself, but haven’t figured out how to get someone to review it.

As an Indy author, it’s hard to figure out just how to get your book noticed. This year, I would like to change that for at least some Indy Authors by writing reviews on my blog. The good news is, I am only interested in writing POSITIVE, yet critical reviews. Thus, if you send me your book and I am not able to honestly give it a strong recommendation, then I will simply not review it. If I review your book and you like my review, you are welcome to share it on your own website, on Twitter, put it on Facebook, etc, as long as you include my name Kristin Anderson and a link to the original review on this blog http://www.authorkristinanderson.com. Last but not least, your book must be thoroughly edited. I can let a handful of typos slide, but any more is distracting and breaks the flow of reading. (I have professionally edited a number of books, thus I find typos and spelling errors very distracting;  they remind me of work!)

Still interested in submitting your book for review? Here are the criteria and categories I will consider.

Requirements
1) Self-published within the last three years (thus from January 1, 2011 to present).
2) Less than 400 pages
3)  Thoroughly edited
4) Available as an e-book / Kindle

Genres
1) Fiction including general fiction, women’s fiction, environmental fiction, romance with a message,  and thrillers of the not overly violent persuasion.
2) Non-fiction about environmental issues and social justice that offers hope, rather than doom.

Reminder: Since I want to write positive reviews, I am seeking novels with a strong, coherent plot, well-developed characters, smooth writing style and an inspirational message. Romance with a message note: Heat is okay as far as romances go, but no porn or erotica. Non-fiction note: I am looking for quality of information and insight into contemporary environmental issues that is presented in layman’s terms, or introduces technical and complex ideas without getting too bogged down in  jargon.

Submission Procedure
Please use the contact form on this website to submit one paragraph describing your book and one paragraph explaining why you think I should review it. Please include a link to your website, title, date published and a valid email address. I retain the right to refuse any submission based on personal preference and you agree not to slander me for what may feel like (but is not) a personal affront.

Tales of an Indy Author book Release

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This past Saturday, after much anticipation and cumulative hours over the last three months sharing messages of hope, fear and excitement, nuanced with begging and pleading for attention and support with my friends, family and online followers alike, I finally had my book release. Phew! You can all wipe your collective brows and know that Author Kristin Anderson’s launch of her debut novel GREEN is now over.

Kristin Anderson signing debut novel Green

Kristin Anderson signing debut novel Green

But as my friends are now pointing out, my work as an author, has only just begun. Now I need to get the world to realize my “debut-novel Green by Kristin Anderson” has been released, that it is receiving great reviews and should be in that stack of books on your bedside table, or in your kindle library. Well, before I begin that journey, I thought it might be fun to share the highlights as well as the strange events that occurred during my book launch this past Saturday, November 16th.

Earlier in the week I thought about contacting my friend Welmoed, owner of Orange Gloss Styling, for her opinion on the best booth location from a Feng Shui perspective. This was the first sign that I was taking this whole thing a little too seriously. (But that was a brilliant idea, wasn’t it?) The night before the launch, my friend Bo Rodenhuis came over and rummaged through my tired collection of clothing with her fashionable eyes. As if invoking some fashion voodoo spell, she created a clothing combination I would have never come up with on my own, and voila! Style!

I awoke Saturday morning with feelings reminiscent of childhood Christmases–I couldn’t wait to jump out of bed and start my day. With the whole “Oh-dear!-what-am-I-going-to-wear” dilemma eliminated, my morning routine was a breeze.

My book launch was held at the Christus Triumfatorkerk in The Hague, The Netherlands, as part of the BezuidenhoutFestival– a neighborhood-centric festival for local clubs, politicians, and community leaders. There were a handful of groups selling handmade items, locally made honey, bridge clubs, a neighborhood watch program, a flower project, politicians and me. Even though the idea for my book was conceived in Santa Barbara, California and set in Los Angeles with a contemporary opposites-attract plot with the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill looming in the background, it could not have been more “locally made.” ; I wrote 80 percent of this book in the Bezuidenhout, The Hague.

To my surprise, friends from just about every hook of my social life here in the Netherlands materialized. They brought offerings of flowers and candles, body lotions and kind words, along with euros to purchase my debut novel. Sister and brother-in-laws, in-laws and nephews joined the celebration. People I didn’t know who had come to the festival attended my book readings along with my friends and family, and even purchased my book. People stood in line for me to sign. This one day felt like a little movie of how I would like my life to be; how it would feel to be a full-time author–how right that would feel. Funny how just a few hours being in one role can change your life perspective.

Minister Ruud Stiemer purchasing Green

Minister Ruud Stiemer purchasing Green

friends purchasing my novel Green

friends purchasing my novel Green

Author Kristin Anderson with reader Janita van Nes

Author Kristin Anderson with reader Janita van Nes

Variety of friends purchasing my book!

Variety of friends purchasing my book!

Considering my eco-romance novel is set in Los Angeles, and is written by an American, it only makes sense that I needed to focus my launch on the U.S. market. Yet, I currently live in the Netherlands. So, I attempted to use some of the social media skills I’ve been learning in Zestee online media school, and create a virtual book launch as a counterpart to my physical launch here in the Netherlands.

But what is a virtual launch? Was the resounding question. My definition is that during the time of your physical launch, you post updates on your website or facebook author page, and plan a group chat through Skype or Google+ hangouts for a hands-on, interactive experience. I decided on Google+ hangouts. It boasted being able to chat with up to 10 people at a time, and I could even make it public, in case Maria Bustillos or another L.A. Times book reviewer might want to join in on the streaming conversation / video and interview me about my fabulous new genre eco-romance. So, I decided to make it public. It took me the better part of a week to figure out how to do a public chat, but I did it! And boy, was I surprised what a public hangout on Google+ could bring!

My first caller was published Santa Barbara author Leslie Westbrook. She’s the real deal, with an agent and multiple titles, and also just an all around friendly person that I knew when I lived in Santa Barbara. While we were talking about the dramatically changing landscape of the book industry, Yuri from the Ukraine joined our conversation. Leslie and I were having Blair Witch Project style flashbacks as Yuri’s toddler grabbed the camera and twirled it around, giving us a seasick overview of the strange warehouse setting where they stood. I tried to politely explain to Yuri that I was doing a book launch and that he was about to make me lose my dinner, but he only wanted to talk to us, and not listen. I quickly discovered the ignore button, and Yuri was no longer in the conversation.

Within a few minutes, another user joined the conversation. But instead of seeing a person, a strange icon appeared, which twirled in circles. The optimist in me considered for a nanosecond that this could be someone genuinely interested in my book. But when he didn’t speak or respond to my conversation, the pessimist in me imagined this spinning disk to be some sort of computer sweeping device munching through all of my files. I quickly discovered the “block sender,” button. Soon a message appeared from said sender that was extremely aggressive, sexist and derogatory because I had blocked him from my conversation. Thus the concept that rules of civility don’t always apply in these non-policed arenas of online interaction.

I closed my session and re-logged on in a private chat, inviting only friends. And friends came to hang out with me. They joined the conversation over the next few hours. As contemporary nomads, many of us author types have friends in various regions of the world. Thus, a virtual launch with a real-time media component, such as Skype or google+ hangouts is very handy. But before you consider doing a virtual launch, I recommend having a method to screen participants.

As the evening wound down, I went to bed as a happy, contented, exhausted author. I knew that the next day, or perhaps a few days afterward, I would need to start the hard work of actually marketing my book so that I can reach readers beyond the scope of my friends and friends of friends. Words that a family friend parsed out the day after my wedding when the job of clean up was at hand came back to me. “You are only Queen for a day.”