She Asked Me About Cake

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Since I ventured into the world of becoming an  indie author, I’ve gotten to know other authors from Canada, the U.S., England, Spain, The Netherlands, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. I realize this might give you the impression that I’m a contemporary nomad, traveling the world to promote my novels at book signings, attending writing conferences and lecturing on panels with other authors. That’s a pretty sweet picture. I like it so much, that I’ll add it to my author vision board (once I get around to making it).

But the truth of it is, I’ve met most of the authors I know online. Such is the case with author Isabella May, whose novel Oh! What a Pavlova will be released in October of 2017.

After discovering that we are both avid readers and that our novels have some similarities (a penchant for travel, including Italy and food), she interviewed me on her website. Her questions weren’t the ordinary ones. She asked me about cake, ESD and more. She’s even visited my little (population 5,000) home town of Solvang in California!

You can read the interview, entitled We talk Venice, ‘European Style Detachment’ and Carrot Cake… by clicking on the link. Like the interview? Please share it on Twitter and Facebook by clicking on those options at the end of her interview. After this experience, I am inclined to start interviewing other authors as well.

 

 

 

 

From Dormouse to Santa Ynez Valley Star

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As a kid, I was terribly shy. So my mom–showing sensitivity and understanding for my inherent shyness–threw me head first into a summer drama program.

I started out on a large stage in the small role of the Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland at the Solvang Theaterfest.  I moved on to play a street urchin in Oliver!  Despite my height as a youth, I even had a role as a dwarf in The Hobbit before eventually getting a lead role as Gerda in The Snow Queen.  In other words, I had the shy beaten out of me, one play at a time. 

I’m now an extroverted introvert who begins conversations with others, can network and even speak in public, though my stomach still gets all tied up in knots every darned time I step on a stage.

The good thing is, I actually like talking to people now. I even like talking to reporters, most of the time.  So I guess, after all of these years, I am thankful to mom, to the drama teacher Maria Bland and her opera singing brother Jo, who taught me to use my voice. I’m also thankful to that motley crew of fellow youth actors who bolstered my confidence in those early years in the Santa Ynez Valley.

You need a voice in life after all, especially if you want to be a known author.

Right now I’m a known author to a small but growing circle of  readers, family and friends. I wouldn’t mind being a star. Or at least mentioned in the Santa Ynez Valley Star. 

Mission accomplished! (SEE BELOW)

Thank you home town paper! Question is, after reading this interview, do you feel like continuing the reading experience by ordering my novel? That would be the true test. 

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.