The Things We Said in Venice

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It’s such a blessing when someone reads your novel and understands the characters and their struggles so well. This post by Stefania Gioffrè, an English teacher in Rome, really struck home. I am so thankful for her post!

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Venice, Italy — A gondola, Venice, Italy — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

There are many reasons why we enjoy traveling. The desire to see dreamlike places, the thrill of meeting new cultures with their art, food, drinks and folklore are of course the most common ones, but sometimes for somebody traveling could also be a way to heal wounds, thus giving the scars the time they need to be barely seen. A change of scenario could reasonably be regarded as the most natural way to turn your back to a distressing past, put all the pieces together and give yourself a new chance.

This is what the two protagonists of Kristin Anderson’s novel “The Things We Said in Venice” have in mind. Sarah Turner, a high school counselor in her late thirties has recently faced a dolorous divorce. She decides to leave her job and home in Bend, Oregon to…

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Somebody Feed Phil Vegan Mozzarella

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In January 2018, Netflix launched an original documentary series entitled Somebody Feed Phil.*  Phil Rosenthal, a rather famous foodie, is taxed with traveling all over the world in search of mouth watering cuisine.  Instead of focusing on high-end restaurants, Phil enlists his happy disposition to chat up locals and discover everything from the best street food to restaurants and pubs. In the opening lines of the trailer, he says “food is the great connector.” A sage older woman weighs in saying “just find out what people like to eat, and you make them happy.”

17311457_10154268386862213_983549551_oApparently, one episode of Somebody Feed Phil takes place in one of my favorite cities: Venice. As you may have gathered from my second novel The Things We Said in Venice, I also love food, travel and Venice and of course a great love story that makes people happy.  That’s why I’m so excited about this show! Restaurants– both real and fictional–pop up throughout my novel as well as discussions of food, veganism and how our diet effects the planet. But back to love; they say the best way to a person’s heart is through his or her stomach.  Fokke van der Veld, a travel writer like Phil, knows the heart-value of food; he seeks out a vegan restaurant in Venice to woo the vegan of his eye, Sarah Turner. Espen also gives this technique a whirl. Who is Espen? A Norwegian man who also attempts to reach Sarah’s heart through her stomach by making vegan mozzarella.

Based on the trailer, Phil loves all things animal, ranging from pork tacos to lobster fried in egg. I wonder if Phil will add vegan gastronomy into his travel pursuits.

Doing research for a travel novel with a lead character who is vegan required quite a bit of research, including making vegan mozzarella!

Watch this Happy Pear video to see how!

What do you think? Should Somebody Feed Phil Vegan Mozzarella? Would you like to see Phil try some vegan food in the exotic places he visits? Do you think he will? We could tweet him and suggest it! (Twitter handle is @PhilRosenthal )

*Unfortunately, it looks like Somebody Feed Phil is not yet available on Netflix in The Netherlands. Is it available in your country?

In Defense of Romance

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A friend recently sent me an email entitled ‘Reading Suggestions?’

Within the email was a sole link to a September 26th, 2017 article  A Roundup of the Season’s Romance Novels by Robert Gottlieb from the New York Times. That little question mark in the title of my friend’s email threw me off, but as I often ask friends for reading recommendations, I dove right into the article.

My friend has read both of my romance novels and knows I am also a reader of the genre, so perhaps he was sharing some reading tips. Oh the difference a question mark can make!

man-typing-on-a-laptop_1218-559If romance novels were animals, then Robert Gottlieb takes on the role of vivisectionist in this cruel and witty review, using his pen (okay, keyboard and fingers) to slash and dissect the romance genre. And it’s a blood bath, folks. Yes, he’s intelligent. And funny. No. I’m not writing grammatically correct sentences. But Gottlieb has pissed me off.

The first half of his piece is about making fun of the language, plot and sex scenes in both regency (racy) and sweet romance novels by sarcastically summarizing the scenarios and splicing together excerpts from the novels. (Was that alliteration or consonance after my vivisection metaphor?)

Take this passage about Julia Quinn’s The Duke And I:

They: Meet at a ball, banter, begin to fall in love. Yet so many things keep them apart! Will he be able to conquer his demons? Will she be able to help him to? You’ll have to read Julia Quinn’s THE DUKE AND I (Avon/HarperCollins, paper, $7.99) to find out. I can reveal this much, however: The sex is great, he “squirming with desire,” she “writhing with delight.”
Excerpt from A Roundup of the Season’s Romance Novels by Robert Gottlieb. New York Times, Sept 26th, 2017

This is the only novel on his shish kebab list that I’ve actually read (skewered things, get it?).  Although I prefer contemporary romance to historical romance, The Duke and I ended up in my eReader to counterbalance my reading list. I was a bit tired of our contemporary, fast-paced world filled with affairs and deceit and reasoned that something that harkens back to another century might be refreshing.

The Duke and I is set in a romantic period when men gently courted women and innocence (at least in the female characters) was the norm rather than the exception.  Quinn does a reasonable job of creating an interesting cast of characters, defining the historical genre and slowly building the love story. For all the prudishness and innocence of the time, she makes up for it by unleashing passion and connection between the newlyweds in the bedroom. But Gottlieb apparently missed all of that.

Readers of romance don’t approach this genre as a teenage boy (or middle-aged man) with a Playboy or Penthouse magazine. They don’t flip right to the centerfold and get their jollies. Romance readers enjoy the slow build-up of two characters getting to know one another: the banter, the encounters or missed-encounters, those escorted walks through a sprawling estate, the first signs of intimacy, the obstacles they must overcome and yes-oh-yes the sex. More often than not, sex equals intimacy and commitment and eventually love.

Gottlieb the romance vivisectionist ignores this whole build up in Quinn’s novel and unceremoniously flips right to the centerfold. By cutting and splicing “squirming with desire” and “writhing with delight” and plopping them outside of the body of the work, he negates all of that work that brought the characters together and in just a few quick strokes (no pun intended), renders Julia Quinn’s writing as laughable. Not fair!

As someone who will continue reading a bad book just to finish the thing, I have fallen victim to some terrible romance novels with flat characters, God-awful dialogue and truly tasteless sex scenes. But the majority of the romance novels I’ve read create depth of character, realistic obstacles and tastefully written love scenes–some all sugar, some definitely spice.

Gottlieb needs to dig a little deeper into this genre to truly understand it. He could read for example Lauren Layne’s novels primarily set in New York that are smart, funny, witty and sexy. He could delve into Lisa Clark O’Neill’s romantic suspense novels that have self-sufficient female leads, sizzling sex and intelligently written suspense. He might enjoy either of my novels Green and The Things We Said in Venice for their strong female characters and societal depictions, if not the love story itself (or he might put them on the dissecting table!) Or if he prefers chaste but well-written romance novels, consider Outback Hero or Stuck by Australian romance author Elisabeth Rose.

My new favorite discovery is The Civil Wars of Jonah Moran by Marjorie Reynolds.  It addresses racism, fear, love, death and clash of cultures and romance combined with beautiful prose. Or if prose really is your thing, consider Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver: nature, sex, environmentalism and a romance that breaks out of the mold. These might really change his rather toxic view on the genre.

I’ll admit that Gottlieb made me laugh throughout his whole rant about my genre, but it seems he misspelled roundup. He apparently meant to apply RoundUp of the Monsanto ilk to the entire romance genre in an attempt at mass eradication.

Hearts-clip-art-images-imageYet there was one point in his romance roundup with which I fully agree: Nora Roberts is the Queen of Romance. It doesn’t seem to matter if it was written in the 80s, 90s or any time within the 21st century, I have enjoyed almost every Nora Roberts novel I’ve read (her romantic suspense ones can be a bit too brutal).

Cartland’s successor as Queen of Romance is America’s Nora Roberts. And she deserves to be. Roberts is not only extraordinarily industrious — 215 or so novels, including 45 futuristic police procedurals under the pseudonym J. D. Robb, also big best sellers — but her books are sensibly written and on the whole as plausible as genre novels can be.

Excerpt from A Roundup of the Season’s Romance Novels by Robert Gottlieb. New York Times, Sept 26th, 2017

I won’t kid myself and think that Robert Gottlieb will take the time to search out my little author blog and respond. But just in case he does, I invite readers of the romance genre to comment on this post with their top romance picks and WHY they think they are worthy of a readership.

Love, kisses, hot sex and happily ever after! (How’s them apples Mr. Gottlieb?)

Author Kristin Anderson

 

 

 

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!

 

Reading and talk at Haagse Hout Library, Saturday June 24th, 2017

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Now that my book launch is over, I’m back to being an author behind the computer screen, escaping into fictional worlds I create, or those of others (I’m one of those authors that LOVES TO READ other authors as well).

But I will come out from behind the screen once again on Saturday, June 24th, 2017 as part of the Parels in Bezuidenhout celebration.


The Parelroute features 47 “pearls” or venues where you can see everything from art and music, participate in workshops and meet authors.

I will be giving a presentation at the Haagse Hout Library (Theresiastraat 195, The Hague) at 1:00pm and 3:00pm. I will discuss how living in The Hague influenced the narrative of my latest novel The Things We Said in Venice, do a reading and there is a chance to purchase a copy of one or both of my titles on this day as well. Not able to make it that day? My book is also available at The American Book Center, The Hague (Lange Poten 23) and via Amazon in your respective countries (best shipping rates to The Netherlands is via Amazon.de).


Here’s the map of the event. As you can see, there’s no shortage of participants! You can see the full schedule on this website and plan your own route for the Parel Dag.

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