The Delta...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hello everyone--

I'm back to the blog, and ready to go forward on the stories of my African adventures. You'll probably laugh, but I actually members of my family are suddenly checking the blog. They say I tell all of you more than I share with them. :)
Before I go on with the stories, however, I want to make a quick comment on the camera I chose for the trip. Many, many of you have remarked upon the great quality of my photos, like the one to the left. (Botswana, the savannah, at sunset--remarkable, huh?) As most of you know, I was no photographer before this trip. In fact, for most of the last ten years, I took what few photos I wanted to take with a disposable camera. That's right; a disposable camera. That was really the full extent of my experience. This is perhaps why its taking me so long to organize my new digital shots. I really don't understand the whole process. But I was going to Africa, right, land of stunning sunsets and magnificent animals. Even I knew I needed a camera. So I did what I always do: I began researching. I spent literally months psyching myself up to buy one of those tricky digital SLR cameras with some mondo lens. Then a friend turned me on to an article about the "rise of the megazooms." No, it's not about dinosaurs. These are digital cameras, with an attached lens, that zooms out to pretty darn remarkable distances. After MUCH research I chose the Olympus sp-570uz. You can check it out at With this little baby, I went from a lazy, who-cares kind of photographer to someone who took more than 1300 pictures in a month. And you know what, almost all of them were at least in focus and a lot were flat out great. I'm not one for product placement in this blog, but I can't recommend this puppy highly enough. Really, I should be their spokesperson; if I can figure the camera out anyone can. :)

So now, on with the show. We arrived in our first "bush camp," deep in the savannah surrounding the delta in the mid afternoon. The time of day is relevant because of the temperatures. Believe me, mid afternoon is when you do not want to be traveling. I thought Debbie and I were going to pass out in the small plane that flew us from Chobe to the camp. I was fanning myself like crazy, and staring down at a landscape that was like nothing I had ever seen before. Africa from the air is just mesmerizing; round mud and thatch houses, round cattle corrals, dry riverbeds, and elephants walking through burn zones where every single tree is black as ash. Our camp, called Lagoon Camp, turned out to be a collection of elegant tents (not an oxymoron, surprisingly) and a main eating hall/library/bar/game room area. We drove up in our open air safari vehicle and were greeted by a nice young man who had a tray of cool drinks and a basket full of cool, wet towels. Heaven!

That evening was our first real game drive. The four of us loaded into the truck (I brought everything short of a defibrillator) and off we went. The roads were terrible--not even roads, really, just rivers of sand--but from the get go, it was magical. We saw jackals and zebras and lots of water buffalo. In fact, here's one of my favorite shots from that first game drive. We came around a corner and there was a small pride of lions, rolling around in the tall grass. As I said earlier, cats are cats are cats. I love this picture because he seems to be looking right at me.

We sat in the truck for a long time, just watching the lions--lions!--hang out and play and finally fall asleep. So about seventy two photos later, we headed back out, and by now the sun was beginning to set and I was about to experience my first African sunset on the savannah. See photo above. Magnificent experience. Then the driver and the tracker (he's the guy who follows the animals' tracks in the dirt and finds them), pulled over beneath a gorgeous old baobob tree and we had wine and appetizers out in the open. If I had known then that my camera had a flash, I would have photos of this for you, but oh no, that would have required reading the booklet, which I was too busy to do. So I lived in the moment but didn't capture it for you. I'm sure you can imagine it, though... and it will probably appear in a book someday.

To the right (yes, I learned how to move the photos in the blog--thanks, Kim!) is my last photo of that first day. It is sunset obviously. I found sunrise and sunset particularly shot worthy. I don't know if it was because focusing could be optional or because I loved the colors. Either way, this is a water buffalo in the tall grass.
And that's enough Africa for the day. So here's the news so many of you have been waiting for: the Sisters essay contest starts on Monday. We'll be collecting your essays--no more than 250 words, please--about your sister, or someone who is like a sister to you. The winning essays will be posted on the website for everyone to enjoy; and the best of the best will receive advance readers' copies of True Colors. As promised, two of these will be earmarked for fireflies, so be sure and identify yourselves. :)
Can't wait to read them!
Aloha for now,


Blogger princessapr said...

The photos are great! I own an Olympus, but mine is a cheapie. I don't treat my electronics well so I don't want to spend a lot of money on one.

I love hearing about your travels. If I can't travel myself, I may as well live vicariously through someone else.

Hm, I'm not as aggravated with my sister today so now may be a good time to write an essay about her. Now, if she'd only stop whining about how old 30 is...

November 19, 2008 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger Kimberly Fisk said...

Whoooo Hoooo, Kristin on figuring out how to position the pictures. (Though like I told you--when you start getting this handy, I start worrying about job security!!)

And April, you said it so well. I don't travel either, so I'll be like you and live vicariously through those that do!

For the record, I told myself I would NEVER EVER read a vampire book. And then Kristin had to mention the Twilight series. My daughter and I DEVOURED them. She's actually heading to the 12:05 showing tomorrow night. Crazy kid.


November 19, 2008 at 11:17 PM  
Blogger Leen said...

Quick comment on the contest. I'll reply to the Africa story later. But I'm too shocked now. When I read that the essay was supposed to be 250 words max, I feared that was gonna be iffy for me. So I went and checked the stats on the essay that I had prepared months ago. Two thousand, seven hundred and ten words later... yeah well... can we say: start over and try to summarize? And stop laughing your ass off over me, Kristin! I know you are! ;)

November 20, 2008 at 7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kristin,
Hello Kim
I thank you for bringing the wonders and beauty of Africa to my attention.What we see on the news is stark,and so very sad.The lion picture is amazing,and I love cats big and small.I would have never considered a trip to Africa.I would love to write a story about my sister,but its not in me,so they will have to stay in my head.
Happy Americian Thanksgiving to all mt Fireflies friend,
And I hope you have a great holiday
Big Hugs

November 20, 2008 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...


Tell your sister to keep on whining, right onto this blog. We'll tell her how YOUNG thirty is, won't we fireflies?


and ps: we all know that reading is one of the best ways to travel. Right? If you loose your imagination, you can be anywhere...

November 20, 2008 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Leen--

I'm not laughing, and don't you DARE summarize. We all know that there's no essay length for fireflies. Not that a good stiff edit doesn't usually help. :) Ask Kim, I cut the equivalent of a whole book every time. But if you want to share it, I want to read it.

Write on!


November 20, 2008 at 7:26 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Sharon--

I felt the same way about Africa. Everything we see on the nightly news is so terrible; it was a shock to find so much beauty and happiness on our trip. And definitely, an essay about your sister is in you. Just write from the heart--it's not a story, just a snippet. It can be a memory, a moment, a valentine to her. Whatever you want. I bet you'd find that you enjoy it.


November 20, 2008 at 7:28 PM  
Blogger Leen said...

Ok - I got some kinda compromise, I think. Provided I find the time for it, I'll write another essay. Something completely different, but about the same "sister". And then I'll hand in both. The long one and the short one. Which doesn't mean I want to double my chances on winning something. I just like to go by the rules, so 250 words is 250 words. And only cuz you're "the" Kristin Hannah, you get to read the other one too. There. How's that? :)


PS. I was laughing my ass off myself when I saw the number of words my essay really contained. Ok, 300 or 400 wouldn't have been too bad, but more than 10 times as much as it was supposed to be? Only with me... ;)

November 20, 2008 at 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The photos are amazing! The red sunset is stunning, and I wish I had a mural of it in my home. I love it !!

Question for you - and I know I'm putting the cart before the horse - how do you turn your novel into a screenplay? Who decides that? Like Nicholas Sparks with The Notebook; and recently, Twilight movie.

I would love to see True Colors on the big screen. I can see it play out in my head. I have actors paired up with your characters already! =)

I know, I know, let the book release first and be patient. I was just curious about the process.

Until next entry, firefly out ...


November 21, 2008 at 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, my sister and I aren't in the best of times right now and if I wrote an essay it might turn out as "how my sister is a pain in the arse and needs a different boyfriend". But I will have to get over that because I want that advanced copy! Any chance I could write about a woman who has greatly influenced my life? Unless I get extra points for true sister drama....

Anyways, hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! I'm Thankful for many things, even my pain in the arse sister...but definately not her boyfriend.

PS- am I allowed to say arse on the blog?

PPS- those pictures rock!!

November 23, 2008 at 5:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Kristin! So happy that you shared beau-tee-ful photos with us and that wonderful Kim showed you how to put them in the middle of the blog. I caught my breath at the sunset picture. I'm sorry to say, your mention of a water buffalo reminded me of a very silly Veggie Tales song. I guess I'm still sort of a kid at heart.
Happy Thanksgiving, I know I'll be back before then.

'Til then,
"Everybody's got a water buffalo,
Yours is fast but mine is slow..."

November 24, 2008 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger princessapr said...

Sheila, you stole my essay on my sister! Ugh boyfriend trouble. I thought we were over that in college. And then I thought I was really over when she got married. And now she's out of college and not married anymore and it's like she's a teenager again. I'd shake her, but she's bigger than I am and could hurt me back now. :)

She has good points. I just have to try to remember them... It is the holiday season.

November 24, 2008 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Kristin, first things first. I absolutely LOVED your comment in your last post regarding the Twilight Series and whether or not Bella is a role model for young adult girls. WOW! Something to think about and obviously I hadn't given it the same thought. I would like to hear some of the other Fireflies' thoughts?

I absolutely loved the Lion picture. It reminded me of a special moment when Alise and I were watching Disney's "The Lion King" and I was trying to explain to her why Simba's daddy died. Ugh! Those things are so hard, but I enjoyed your wonderful pictures of Africa and I can't wait to see more.

Have a great Thanksgiving! What is the traditional menu for your family, Kristin?

November 24, 2008 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger Leen said...

Time for some comments about the Africa trip. My life is hectic right now (having been sick for a week didn't help either), so I have to make use of every moment of the day. So this five minute break is used to write a couple of lines on this blog...

First of all: I agree with all the previous writers - I still don't see anything but amazingly beautiful pictures. If you really want me to believe that these were just a couple of "lucky shots" then I think you must have taken about a million to get this lucky.

As for not reading the manual and thus missing out on getting another bunch of neat pictures: girl, you once again remind me so much of myself. That would have been me, just fiddling with the camera without actually knowing what I'm doing. Manuals are way too boring anyway and the translations in Dutch are usually a mixture of about seven languages, so that you're actually better off trying to figure it out yourself. One of my friends (who is not too keen on getting their picture taken) tells me that you don't need to get everything on camera anyway: the best memories are the ones you have in your heart. I always tell them that I'm glad the (video)camera of my heart captures everything, but the sad thing is that I don't always succeed in rewinding it, so that the memories get vague much easier that way compared to when I actually have printed pictures. But well... that's just me being the poetic soul that I am, I guess. :)

In the mean time... keep those amazing stories and pictures coming and... am I the only one who's wondering how we're supposed to enter a contest that is supposed to have started on Monday when we don't know where to send our essays yet? I even have my 250 words story ready too (do you know how fricking short that is, really?! - it's not even half a page in my text editor!), so I'm all ready for it!


PS. Even if we don't celebrate it here (which I find a pity) - happy Thanksgiving to you all!

November 26, 2008 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger princessapr said...

Chiming in about Bella. I think she's a flawed character. However, at her core, I think she is a good role model. Of course, keep in mind that I haven't finished the third and haven't read the fourth (though I have read spoilers). She is independent and cares about her family. She seems to want to do the right thing or what seems like the right thing to her with the information she's given. I think my biggest issue with her characters is her age. With all of the circumstances and decisions that she made, it seemed unusual for her young age. So, I had trouble accepting that.

I don't necessarily think a character has to be a role model in YA fiction or anywhere. If a character is not, it is still good discussion. As with television, I believe books to be something in which parents should show interest and discuss with their children. Maybe the fact that Bella is not that close with either of her parents influences how close she becomes to Edward and his family. So, all in all, it does show us that everything in our lives influences us for good or bad and shapes who we are.

November 26, 2008 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Lisa--

Well, first of all, I have to say I love "firefly out." It makes us sound totally cool, like fighter jet pilots or something. :)

And I'm so glad you love the red photo. It's so dramatic, isn't it? I wonder how big I can blow it up before it loses the clarity.

I wish I understood the whole book to screenplay process. Here's what I do know: my film agent is still pitching Firefly Lane and expects a new surge in interest when the paperback finally comes out. Believe me, if I ever have any good news, I'll pass it along. I did hear that a film producer recently expressed interest in my Christmas novella "Comfort and Joy." It's a strange and heartwarming story, so fingers crossed.

But what I really have to know is this: who do see for the cast for True Colors???



November 27, 2008 at 10:52 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Sheila---

There are sisters by blood and sisters by choice. I absolutely do not care if your essay is about someone related to you or someone who perfects relates to you. :) Although, I have to say, I am intrigued by "pain in the ass who needs a new boyfriend." Sounds like sisters to me. Maybe you need two entries...



November 27, 2008 at 10:54 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...


Can't help it; I'm laughing. Do you have a little more of that song? But let me tell you this...those water buffalos are not so funny in person. They're big and cranky and move in a cloud of dust that gets in everything. There's an amazing youtube video making the rounds right now about lions stalking a baby water buffalo. Amazing stuff.

Maybe you should video yourself singing the water buffalo song as a soundtrack...


November 27, 2008 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Okay, April---

I totally want your essay, too. I mean, come on, girls, we all know there's no end to sister drama. We love each other and drive each other crazy. And during this holiday season, isn't it great to remember how much we love our sisters...even when they're making us crazy...and we make them crazy.

Isn't that the definition of family?



ps: Is this the baby's first or second Christmas??

November 27, 2008 at 11:00 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Oh, April, I forgot---

I read Susan Elizabeth Phillips "What I did for love" this weekend and it totally rocked!


November 27, 2008 at 11:01 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Dear Laura--

Funny you'd mention "The Lion King." It's a big deal in my family. My son came of age with second great wave of Disney animation--Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Aladdin. I've spent years listening to the various soundtracks, and last year we were fortunate enough to take him to the lion king play on Broadway. Awesome is all I can say. And yes, every time I saw lions in the wild I thought of that, and him. It was really special.

Bella as role model is an interesting question. I agree with April about the idea that young adult fiction does not have to strive to create good role models. Bad role models can spark great discussions, just as April pointed out. From the discussions I've had with my friends about this question, it seems that the answer to the question about Bella comes down to whether the particular reader sees her as active or passive. What's your take? Also, I will say that the question can't really be fully discussed until you've read the fourth book. Personally, I think Hermoine (from Harry Potter) is a classic, wonderful role model for young women. She's smart, caring, strong, assertive, caring, and she broke up with a hunk because he didn't study enough!

Traditional family Thanksgiving:
Turkey (duh!!)
Mashed potatoes and gravy
dressing (italian sausage, apple)
broccoli/cauliflower casserole
buttermilk biscuits
apple pie
pumpkin pie
pecan pie

Those are the "must haves" and then every year we try a few new things.

What about the rest of fireflies? What are your must haves?


November 27, 2008 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger princessapr said...

Oh, I never answered. First, I do have an essay. I threw it together last night.

Second, I'm so jealous that you got to read SEP's new book. Her sister was bragging on the bulletin board a little bit ago.

Third, this is the baby's second Christmas. She was born a year ago last October. I was 6 months pregnant or so at RWA-Dallas. Are you going to RWA this year in D.C.?

December 4, 2008 at 9:28 AM  

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