Save the Date: Saturday May 20, 2017 Book Signing in The Hague

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Although The Things We Said in Venice is now available online through Amazon.com, .au, co.uk, .nl etcetera and can be ordered through your local bookstore, there is currently only one place where you can purchase your very own signed copy and celebrate it’s release with me in person: At my book release in The Hague!

Here are the details:

Why RSVP? I am ordering the books directly from the printer (in the United States) and therefore have the opportunity to sell the books directly to you on the day of the book signing. To make sure I order enough books (hope springs eternal), an RSVP will help me estimate how many more copies I need.

You can RSVP here on FACEBOOK on my author page event listing

Or alternatively, here on my Amazon author page:

(Please bring cash if you would like to purchase a copy, or hit up the nearest ATM the day of).

Thank you all for following me and for your continued support of the worlds I create through writing!

Fifty Shades of Venice

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A part of me tries to avoid mass cultural activities out of some inner desire to preserve my integrity.  Call it a left over residue of literary elitism from my days as an English Major, or a fear that by participating in the norms, I will lose touch with the ability to be ‘unique’ or to form my own thoughts–a fear of cultural brainwashing, shall we say.

On the other hand, just because something is wildly popular is not reason enough to write it off. Think Adele, Harry Potter, The Beatles, Facebook, Twitter, Martin Luther King or Obama, for that matter. We can be engaged and inspired by mass cultural figures, pastimes and entertainment while keeping our discerning minds in tact.

Perhaps this view explains my recent caving expedition. Not spelunking or potholing but caving, as in giving in to things.

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For example, the other night I met up with a friend to see Fifty Shades Darker. It’s not the type of film in which to invite your child or the minister of your church, but it works just fine as a sexy film to see with your girlfriends. (In fact, there were only women in the theater!)

After the film, I had an interesting discussion with my friend. Why is this genre so popular? Although The Fifty Shades stories have been called mommy porn and this latest film received a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, that doesn’t take away the facts; the novels are wildly popular the world over. In fact, 100 million copies of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy were sold worldwide through 2014 (The Gaurdian, 2014). That number has certainly only grown in the last three years.

I believe this series is popular for several reasons. 1) It pushes the norms of the romance genre (tell us it’s forbidden and we want it more), 2) it features an innocent heroine and a rich bad boy (two popular elements in the romance genre) and 3) it provides a narrative that goes beyond the sex and physical attraction to offer up what we all want in our lives: Love.

Although S&M plays a role in the film, and Grey’s stalker mentality would make any woman squirm (and not in a good way), the lead characters care so deeply for one another that they inspire positive change in each other’s lives. He’s willing to give up his dark habits for a chance at love. And who wouldn’t want a sexy, successful multi-millionaire to consider you ‘the one’ who could make his life complete? (Given that you feel the same way, that is. Otherwise that could be highly problematic.)

The heroine of the story is also strong. She is able to say no to power freak Christian Grey while every other woman in his past only knew how to say yes. Her innocence and integrity are her weapons in turning a bad boy good, without taking the sexy out of him.

As we left the movie, my friend gave me the ticket stub, suggesting that I could use the ticket as a tax write off or memento, since I’m an author of romance.

As I prepare for the launch of my second book,  I revisit why, with my interest in literature, I continue to write romance. It’s quite simple, actually. I believe that everyone deserves love in their lives and I am most attracted to works of fiction that bring messages of hope, connection and joy into the world, while honoring the social narrative in which they are written. Romance is a genre that gives space for all of these qualities.

It is thus with pride that I share with you the cover of my upcoming novel The Things We Said in Venice!

A gondola, Venice, Italy

It’s no Fifty Shades of Venice, but it does take you on a romantic journey through Italy, Argentina and The Netherlands with characters that make you laugh, cry, contemplate and open your heart to the chance of love.

With a launch date planned in May 2017, you will undoubtedly be hearing more from me in the coming weeks about this novel. But for now, a picture is worth a thousands words.

I would love to hear what you think of this cover design!

Second Novel Headed Your Way

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2017 will bring many new things, including my second novel, The Things We Said in Venice. In just six words, you have already learned quite a bit about this story.  There were some important things said that warrant enough discussion for a novel. They were said in Venice, and there’s a ‘we’ involved. We and Venice suggest either a mercantile venture or romance. I’m guessing you’ve deduced which of these two options apply.

Over the last year of writing The Things We Said in Venice, I’ve gotten to know the characters quite well. So well, in fact, that they come into my thoughts when I’m out for a run or headed to the green grocer. Although they have been trying to talk me into a sequel, The Things We Said in Venice is currently a stand alone novel.

Some of my readers have asked me if my second novel is an eco-romance like my debut novel Green. I was all geared up to say, “No. Not at all.” But as I re-read the final draft, I realized that both characters are quite aware of the environmental issues facing us today. They’re not eco-preachy like Jake Tillerman (lead male character of Green) and the book isn’t shaped around an environmental disaster. The lead characters of The Things We Said in Venice are like many of us. They are living in the age of climate change, melting ice caps and disappearing species and these facts inform the way they think and interact with the world.

If you enjoy travel, have a sense of humor and like being swept up into a romantic journey of love conquers all, then this book is for you! (More details to come in the following weeks!)

Want to be notified as soon as The Things We Said in Venice is available? Then drop me a message and I will add you to the early notification list.

 

Hurdling inertia

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI ran track when I was in high school. I did the mile, two-mile and the 440 relay. I was good for going the distance. However, I humbly refused to do hurdles. It’s one thing to put one foot in front of the other over and over again at a reasonable pace. It’s quite another to defy gravity and jump over metal bars topped by a solid piece of wood. (Yes. Almost to the analogy part). I might not have been able to get over those physical hurdles, but I’ve been jumping over metaphorical hurdles one after another.

2011 I finished my first draft ever of a full-length book.
2012 I sent that draft off to a half dozen friends to get feedback.
2013 I had my debut book edited by a professional, purchased cover art and released it into the world.
2014 I had a book signing event in the U.S., was asked to write guest posts on multiple writer’s blogs and started book two.

And then my four-year stint of metaphorical hurdle jumping came to an anti-climactic halt. I may even be stretching it by counting 2014 as a hurdle year, as I had planned to be finished with my first draft of book two by 2014, not still in the beginning phases.

What in the hurdle happened to me?

Perhaps I just need inspiration. They say that if you want to do something, anything, you could go online right now and find thousands of articles telling you exactly how to do it. Probably a number of vimeo or youtube videos would show me step for step how to get back on track with my book, leading me into the framework with the enthusiasm of a bunny following a carrot a boy playing Minecraft.

But my problem is something else entirely: I have been enjoying life. Being in the present. Taking on other writing assignments. Collaborating on exciting projects. Meeting new friends. Using inappropriate punctuation.

I really DO want to get back to novel number two, but I’m wondering if you all might entertain a little idea I came up with all on my own to jumpstart the creative writing process.

I am inviting YOU to give me three elements for a short story along with a genre of your choice. Example: An orphan, a violin and a stranger: Mystery.

Yes. I know there are websites that can automatically generate this kind of stuff for you, but I like the idea of “interacting” with my actual readers and having their input.

Ball’s in your court! (What’s with all the sports metaphors author Kristin Anderson? Geesh!)

Forging Ahead

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I’ve noticed a trend in all of my romance novel “research” I’ve been doing in the past few years. Authors tend to start out writing a classical (as in somewhat formulaic and predictable but with enough twists and originality to make the story their own) romance: girl meets boy. Sparks fly. A series of unexpected events bond the characters together before obstacles get into their path. The question remains not IF but HOW they will overcome said obstacles to reach eternal bliss, usually ending with happily ever after, which may or may not included marriage and children. Yes. I too am formulaically guilty as charged.

Bad? Not necessarily; we romance reading types like to hear the same story over and over again, provided that it has enough twists to keep it interesting and that the ending brings happiness.

By book two or three, the romance author decides to grab another set of powder-filled bottles from the spice rack to heat up the formula. I’m not talking about going from slightly sexy to erotic. Although I have experienced this development in some writers, most romance authors seem to settle on a heat level for their sensual writing and stay within a few degrees of sizzle both for their own comfort level and for that of their audience.

The new dash of spice I’m talking about is the mixing of two genres; going from romance to romantic suspense (e.g. thriller). Call it a mix of deadly night shade and Habanero pepper, but the romantic thriller adds a level of tension to a story that a typical romance seems to miss. It also calls for a stronger stomach, because suspense quite often means violence or the threat of violence, which can put an uncomfortable edge on the entire novel that keeps you moving forward. Thus the reader is now doubly motivated to turn the page: to see how the romance will progress and to see how the characters will escape the danger looming over their heads.

I recently discovered author Lisa Clark O’Neill’s “Southern Comfort” series. A gripping mix of crime and romance, I found myself outside my comfort zone as she explored the dark topics of sex trade, child abduction and more mixed with attraction between hot, heroic detective types and feisty civilian types. It is an intriguing mix, but not a mix for everyone. I enjoyed her ability to lace humor, attraction and love into these darker settings.

I must be following some sort of path, because I too am delving into romantic suspense as I embark on novel two. But my twist to the apparent path? Eco-romantic suspense!

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!

Perfect Mother’s Day Gifts 2014

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As a mom, I feel I can write with authority on the topic of what makes a perfect Mother’s Day gift. Of course, moms have as many things in common as they have differences, so there is not one perfect gift that will fit us all. But here are a few things that speak to my heart.

1) A handmade gift that was thought out by our child / children. This could be a drawing, a painting, a box turned into a birdhouse or a giraffe-shaped cookie for all we care. Although we generally have an eye for aesthetics, we aren’t particularly concerned about how beautiful it is, but rather that our child took the time and energy to make it with mom in mind. If your children are older, this can come in the form of an Mp3 mix just for mom, a story or poem written with her in mind, or a digitally made and printed photo album you took the time to lay out and order.

2) A meal made by our family. Most of the principles in gift idea one (made with us in mind) apply here with one exception; it must actually taste good.  If dad and accompanying offspring are terrible cooks, then taking mom out for brunch is much more appreciated.

3) A romance or other novel you know is to our liking, accompanied by a block of time to read. In the area of romance, I would of course love you to consider GREEN, my debut novel. But I also recommend any of Tracy Brogan’s books such as Crazy Little Thing . I’m personally looking forward to her latest novel The Best Medicine, that will be available on May 13th, 2014 and can be pre-ordered now. While I personally love reading romance, not all moms do. Thus consider a book in a genre you have seen her read, whether it’s contemporary fiction and literature, biography, or DIY manuals.

4) Fair Trade Chocolate. I know. Cliche. But seriously. Who doesn’t love chocolate?  We all talk about how we are slaves to chocolate, we love it so much. But true slavery is no laughing matter, and unfortunately, the cocoa industry is known to use child labor and slavery. What mom wants to support child labor on mother’s day? Thus choose Fair Trade chocolate, such as Tony’s Chocolonely, which is not only delicious, but doing it’s best to make “slavery free chocolate.” This is a very difficult feat in the way cocoa farms are currently set up. Another well-known conscientious chocolate company is Endangered Species chocolate. You can also see the Food Empowerment Project’s list of recommended vegan chocolates for an extended list of child-labor free chocolates.

5) And now, put it all together: Make us a delicious meal, topped off by fair trade chocolate and a hand made gift and then send us to our reading chair with a great book. Oh, Happy Mother’s Day!