Understanding the other

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December is a busy month for most. Although I’ve been working on the second draft of my latest novel, my creative energy has been transferred to working on local projects in The Hague, The Netherlands to bring a bit of tranquility and celebration to the lives of the Syrian and Eritrean refugees temporarily housed in our neighborhood.

This post on my other blog shares one such event.

https://kristininholland.wordpress.com/2015/12/11/breaking-bread-with-refugees/

The Power of Seeing Famous Authors Speak

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Tonight I did something splendid. Instead of staying home and writing, I went out and attended a talk by a famous author. Since this all went down in The Hague, I posted it on my Kristin in Holland site. However, considering it has everything to do with the writing of fiction and the amazing contemporary author TC Boyle, I thought I’d also share the link here.

https://kristininholland.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/tc-boyle-and-the-shadow-of-fame/

Jurassic Sexism World

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When the poster for Jurassic World went up at our neighborhood tram stop, I didn’t ignore it, like I do so many other advertisements for films, but pondered it with a mix of nostalgia and curiosity. I have fond scared-out-of-my-wits memories of the first Jurassic Park in 1993 (I scare easily). The first Jurassic Park was so much better on the big screen, surrounded by others screaming along with me as dinosaurs came after humans.

Still on the fence about seeing Jurassic World in the theater, I watched the trailer, which promised not only special effects and scream-inducing scenes with scary dinosaurs, but the added bonus of eye-candy for mom in the form of Owen (Chris Pratt) and, I would soon discover, Omar Sy (already forgot his character name).

My son was eager to see it too and invited a friend to come along. My husband joined us reluctantly, turning it into a family affair.

The pace of the movie was familiar as a trusted recipe: a) a slow beginning to introduce the main characters and give the jurassic world Owenviewers a chance to develop a degree of emotional attachment; b) romantic tension in the form of super-alpha, overtly masculine Owen, (Chris Pratt) and super-controlled, icy-yet-beautiful Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard); c) dinosaur-related problem paired with the plot-building conflict of opinions on how to resolve the problem, followed by; d) GMO dinosaurs who have escaped their cages with an insatiable appetite for hunting and killing everything that comes in their path, including, of course, humans.

Jurassic World did not let me down when it came to the scare factor and breathtaking special effects. But after the movie, I had an experience akin to waking up with a strong case of garlic breath– a distinctly bad taste in my mouth that you are fully aware comes from the amount of garlic you willingly consumed the day before. In this case, the garlic was that of cliches, sexism and stereotyping that was so overt in its placement that you can not help but be pissed off that you took it in, and willingly washed it down with a super-sized slug of special effects.

For example, Claire, our female lead, is portrayed as a woman who is emotionally repressed and not in touch with human jworld.claireinstincts.  This is stereotyped in her lack of feeling or interest in her nephews who come to stay with her (no maternal instincts) as well as her insensitivity for the dinosaurs as living, breathing creatures (lack of empathy).  She is also portrayed as “manly” in her conduct, but only in a way that female professionals are portrayed as manly: she puts work first above all else, she is sexually frigid, translated by her icy and judgmental reactions to super sexy Owen, as well as her prim and boring clothing, her straight cropped hair and high heels.

What is Hollywood’s message to viewers of this entertainment film? In order for a woman to succeed in a man’s world, she has to cut herself off from her femininity (read as emotions, maternal instincts and sexuality). But then it gets worse.

Claire is teased by Owen, the epitome-of-masculinity, about her lack of emotion, her clothes and her high heels, and is told to “wait here” on many occasions. She is treated, in all respects, as a child. However, she rebels against his dominance. How? By unbuttoning her crisp white workshirt and tying it in a knot, revealing her tank top and cleavage underneath. Go Claire! And moreover, she can run through lush green fields in her high heels just as fast as Owen in his suitable shoes. She can jump onto metal platforms and keep up with the rest, all while maintaining her balance on those three-to four inch heels. Is this the Hollywood superwoman? On top of that, her authority within the park is being questioned as well as undermined by, no other than testosterone-overdosed men.

jurassic-world-bryce-dallas-howardIt is only through spending time with Owen, a real man who’s really in charge, that her femininity returns. This comes in the form of her image becoming sexier as the film progresses, her physical pull to Owen increasing, and a confusing mix of helplessness (save me Owen) and smarts: She’s the one who uses the gun to save Owen from a winged dinosaur; she’s the one who bravely brings another behemoth dinosaur into the fight.

Laura Dern_THEN.jpg

Laura Dern_THEN.jpg

Compare 2015 Claire to the smart and confident, properly-shoed Ellie Sattler character played by Laura Dern in the 1993 Jurassic Park.

When a man suggests he go in her place out to hunt dinosaurs, Ellie scoffs, saying she’ll talk to him about his sexism when she comes back. In other words, she’ll put that sexist man in his place after she kicks some dinosaur ass. Ellie is compassionate toward animals, not afraid to get into shit, and is smart, sexy and knows how to wear proper footwear.Jurassic+Park+Ellie+Sattler+Dinosaur+Poo

What has happened in the last 22 years to our image of women in the Jurassic context? Are we, in an era of so many civil rights breakthroughs–embracing same sex marriage, cheering on our famous transgenders–tipping the scales backward when it comes to gender equality for women?

I realize, that I too am displaying sexist tendencies toward men. Even though the Owen character was annoyingly sexist, I also found him hot and forgave him his teasing of Claire for his bad-assness and pleasing biceps. He could, after all, train raptors, and, unlike other bad-ass, hot male Hollywood characters, he had a sensitive side he wasn’t afraid to share.

And what was with–spoiler, so stop now if you don’t want to know this detail–Claire lying on the ground in a helpless, sexy pose, as three dinosaurs have a full-on battle right in front of her? Were the screenwriters asking for audience participation to the tune of yelling “get out of there, you stupid b!*ch?” Even my son, in slightly more polite language was saying “What is she doing? Why doesn’t she get out of the way? Is she stupid?”Bryce-dallas-howard-jurassic-world_sexy

What do you have against strong women, Hollywood? Why are you using this family-entertainment summer film as a platform for sexism?

Do you think special effects and somewhat “ha-ha” dialogue is enough to justify this overt sexism? Or is this some sort of playfulness that is allowed in ridiculous genres, and therefore acceptable?

Have you seen Jurassic World? What are your thoughts?

Thank you all!

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Just posted this on my expat blog, but thought it also deserved to be on my author website.

kristininholland

I would like to send my thanks into the world to all of the environmental groups that participated in Earth Day The Hague last night (see the list below), to the people who chose to spend their Tuesday evening with us learning about the history of Earth Day and the many eco-activities in The Hague. And special thanks to Tom and Agnes at the American Book Center who supported this event by ordering environmental books to celebrate and advocate for the environment, providing their support and aiding in publicity.

If you live in The Hague, please consider purchasing your next read at the ABC Bookstore. Or in Earth Day terms, help keep the bookstore species alive by supporting them with your purchasing power. 

If you missed this event, and wanted to go, please take a moment to check out the websites of the organisations who participated below. Pictures hopefully to follow!

Earth…

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Desert Rain: A Soundtrack

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Nature is an inspiring force. Rain, which is an almost daily part of my Dutch landscape, is something I take for granted. But in a desert land? It is majestic. I love how this post from Dreaming in Arabic uses beautiful prose to describe the rain, intermingled with references to songs that relate to rain. thus the reblog.

Dreaming in Arabic

A Rainy Morning Layers of cloud cover the sky, swirling into a witches brew of grey. Big, fat raindrops burst and explode against window panes, leaving watery trails in their wake. With time the drizzle turns into a symphony of sound. High notes bounce off the carport roof, low notes gurgle through spouts. Waterdrops trickle off grass and treetops, huddle in puddles and saturate the windblown desert sand. The smell of wet earth replaces the choking scent of dust.

Listen To The Rhythm of the Falling Rain – The Cascades

*     *     *

The melodic voices of children dance and twirl on the cool breeze. A boundless energy echoes off perimeter walls and escapes into the glistening streets.

Laughter In The Rain – Neil Sedaka

*     *     *

Thunder rumbles in a moonless sky. Occasional flashes of lightning reveal a drenched landscape.

I Love A Rainy Night – Eddie Rabbitt

*     *     *

Chocolate…

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Green coming to The ABC Bookstore in The Hague, The Netherlands

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Good news! This week the ABC Bookstore in The Hague agreed to carry my debut novel GREEN! Up until this point, my book has only been available for purchase as a kindle or paperback online and in paperback form in four bookstores in the United States. This is the first placement in The Netherlands and thus holds special significance to this American author living in The Hague; people can buy it locally!

Will it seem awkward and geeky when I head into the bookstore next week with my camera to document its placement among other published titles on the shelf? Or is this LLA* phenomenon one that bookstores have become all too familiar with? (*Lurking Local Author).

One benefit of a local presence is that local book clubs can invite the author to their gatherings to participate in the discussion of the book. Book clubs don’t usually go for romance books, but for one reason or another, GREEN is slowly gaining traction as a Book Club pick.

Thus far  GREEN is on the reading list for two book clubs in California and has been recommended by readers to book clubs in Connecticut and Indiana.  I will be skyping  in to a book club meeting this coming Monday for my first book club discussion on this title!  I hope to gain some insight into why GREEN is considered worthy of Book Club discussion.

If you have already read GREEN, would you recommend it to a book club or group? If so, why? I would love to hear your reasoning in the comments section below.

Thank you everyone for your support!

Author Kristin Anderson

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

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How many of you have read a great Indie 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 Indie 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.