Archive for the 'eBook Short Stories' Category

Letting Go

Mar. 8th 2011

I’m getting ready to email my novel to the folks at eBook Architects. They’re the ones who convert my Word doc file into Mobi (Kindle) and ePub (everything else). Then it will be time  for me to sell the thing.

We’ve had a long journey, this novel and me, and I’m having a hard time letting it go. I think I may have driven my wonderful and patient copy editor, Laura Matthews, a little crazy this past weekend as I revised the opening page about five times, and each one I sent to her for feedback.

There’s always more you can do, always a phrase you can improve, a thought you can sharpen, a character you can deepen. At some point, you need to let it go. Or so I’ve been told.

The good news? In this digital world in which I choose to work, at least for now, I can easily make changes should a typo be spotted or a modifier dangle. In the print world, those mistakes live on in paper until another print run (provided there is one) or a conversion to paperback.

I’ve published five short stories to Kindle, Nook, etc. since I started this venture last fall. I got my first royalty payments from Amazon and Barnes & Noble this week. You’d think sending this file off wouldn’t be a big deal since I’ve done it five times already. But for some reason, it is. Maybe because it’s my debut novel. Maybe because I’ve worked on this piece since 2001. Then again, maybe it’s normal to feel this way every time you send out such a big part of yourself to the world.

I keep doing searches on words like “really” and  “studies” (which became my new way of saying “look”) and double checking hair and eye color and fact checking some of the history and wavering on whether I should take the risk of including two lines from an Adrienne Rich poem and hoping it qualifies as fair use or plucking them out. I worry that some of my corrections have resulted in typos, so I read and reread until the words swim, as do my eyeballs, and I have to adjust the zoom every page or two so I can trick my brain into spotting any lingering or last-minute mistakes.

I’ve come to this point in a really (sorry, Laura) circuitous way: Mrs. Shea’s fourth grade class, radio, copywriting, creative writing, querying, snobbing on self-publishing, epiphany, self-publishing.

Am I good enough? Who’s to say? What defines “good enough” anyway?

I know I’m not alone in this moment of self-doubt, a moment that I imagine most writers go through right before a work comes out. Anne Lamott writes about it in Bird by Bird on the chapter called “Publication”:

“The first time you read through your galleys is heaven. The second time through, all you see are the typos no one caught. It looks like the typesetter typed it with frostbitten feet, drunk….By the fifth reading, you are no longer sure that publishing this would be in your best interest.”

I’m going to hit “send” now, take a deep breath, have a nervous breakdown, and then get over it and myself.

Until the next time.

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My Latest Short Story is Available

Feb. 25th 2011

I’m excited to announce my latest short story, “Crush,” is now available for download on Kindles and Nooks (you’ll need the Nook app or Kindle app for your iPad since the iBookstore is backlogged — hope it goes live on there soon). And yes, it’s a buck or less (depending on where you buy it).

If you have another eReader that uses ePub files, you can side load from Lulu. And if you don’t have an eReader, you can download the PDF.

Here’s the eBook trailer — make sure your speakers are up:


Some background on the story’s genesis: I worked on this story on and off for about four years. Last summer (2010), I finally got it to a point where I thought it was done. I shared it with some beta readers and revised some more.

How’d the story come about? Freak accidents and deaths fascinate me. Four years ago, it seemed like I was hearing about more and more of them. We’re talking those deaths where someone is struck by lightening or killed by a falling coconut (it happens) or injured in a carnival accident or swept away by a rogue wave while standing at a lookout point. All deaths are painful, of course, but the freakish nature of some of these deaths has to mess with the psyches of the surviving family members. Or so I imagined. And thus, the story came about, albeit slowly.

A piece of trivia that may interest only me: I use Animoto to create my book trailers. It’s web-based software that’s easy to use, and I don’t have to worry about licensing music since it provides a vast library. The music for this particular trailer is an instrumental piece called “Epiphany” by composer Mark Petrie.

When I saw his name pop up on the piece I selected, I smiled. I met Mark probably eight years ago when he was living in Boston. I wrote one of his early bios (it was one of my early copywriting gigs). He’s in LA now and has quite the career going. The most intriguing part of his “story” is that he was deaf as a young child — he had to undergo a bunch of surgeries to restore his hearing (I don’t know all the particulars). He’s extremely talented, and I think it’s cool that the music I ended up selecting for this trailer was composed by someone I’ve met in real life.

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Posted by Robyn | in eBook Short Stories, eBooks & online short stories | Comments Off on My Latest Short Story is Available

Kindle Singles. They’re What’s for Dinner.

Jan. 27th 2011

I was excited to see the Kindle Singles section of the store go live on Amazon with some heavy hitters, including one of my faves: Jodi Picoult.

I’m not happy about some of the comments I’ve seen floating around about Kindle Singles being for people with short attention spans. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Oh, where to begin? Let me count the ways…

Short stories are shorter, yes, than their novel cousins, but that makes them no less of a story any more than a short person is any less of a human being. In fact, you might be surprised at how many shorts you’re already familiar with, thanks to the silver screen: Stand by Me (based on Stephen King’s short “The Body”); Brokeback Mountain (based on a short by the same name by Annie Proulx); Million Dollar Baby (based on shorts by F.X. Toole); In The Gloaming, an HBO move based on the short by Alice Elliott Dark; A. I. Artificial Intelligence based on Brian Aldiss’s short story “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long”; and countless others.

Shorts require careful, thoughtful reading. Every. Word. Matters. Yeah, every word should matter in a novel, but let me ask you this: have you ever skimmed through some pages of a novel, even ones you like? That’s harder — if not impossible — to do with a good short, where your mind needs to be alert and aware of every move, every word.

Short stories are not easier to construct simply because they’re shorter. In fact, some would claim that crafting a successful short story is even more challenging than a novel.  Annie Proulx used to have a website (anyone know why she gave it up?), and I recorded on another blog her answer to how long it took her to write Brokeback…she said (and again, I can’t find the original source, but you’ll find references to this quote if you Google it): “Roughly six months, about twice as long as it takes to write a novel.”

Short stories are immensely satisfying. And yeah, a good novel can be as well. But shorts are satisfying in a different way. Imagine getting all your satisfaction in one sitting — say on a commute to work — with a story that lingers with you for the rest of the day and makes you think. Ah heaven, methinks (even when you’re dealing with PITA clients. Not that I ever am. Ahem).

Shorts could inspire reluctant readers to read more or to read, period. Throw Moby Dick at a reluctant reader and, well, expect a big fail whale, my friends. (I mean, c’mon — they don’t even get ON the boat for well over 100 pages, right?) Give a kid a rockin good short story and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to show a kid the joy of reading a great tale. (And then get them to try Moby a little later, once they’re hooked. Ha! Hooked — get it?)

They’re a great way to experiment. Want to try a new author or genre? Consider Kindle Singles your Whitman’s Sampler. Try a new flavor of writer — if you like his or her shorts, upgrade to a novel.

And yeah, they’re cheaper. Nothing wrong with that. I sell my shorts for 99 cents (and $1 in the places that make me, like Scribd). I want eyeballs. The more the merrier.

So call Kindle Singles exciting, cheap, a ploy by Amazon to make more money (I have no problem with that — it is a business, after all), or the best thing since kitty YoutTube videos, but do NOT say they’re meant for people with short attention spans. And don’t insinuate they’re unworthy due to length.

Nerve struck, obviously. Open to thoughts in the comments!

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My latest eBook Short Story for Kindle, Nooks, & More

Jan. 9th 2011

My January/February 2011 title is available on Kindles, Nooks, iPads (via the FREE Kindle app – the iBookstore remains backlogged through Lulu), and more. You can sideload to any device that accepts ePub files when you buy it off of Lulu (where it’s a buck, not 99 cents). And if you don’t have an e-reader? No prob. Read it with Kindle for PC or Mac. Or print out a PDF through Scribd. Lots of options. No one is left out in the cold.

This short story actually has an interesting history (well, interesting to me). It was inspired by a postcard I saw on PostSecret (if you’re not familiar with this awesome and worthwhile community art project, CHECK IT OUT. That’s an order). The story won a short story award in 2007 from The Center for the Arts in Natick (TCAN). And even though it was considered “published,” all that meant was that it was stapled together with the other winning entries (there were about six of us, I think). This stapled-together-concoction was handed out at a reading at TCAN (where about maybe 50 people attended, if that) and then was relocated to the bowels of the Morse library in Natick. So maybe 75 people — tops — ever got a chance to read it.

I decided to resubmit it to see if I could gain a wider audience. I was completely transparent about its history. A small lit journal named Metal Scratches republished it last fall. Metal Scratches has been around for a decade, but, like most lit journals, it has a small readership. So I decided to release it as an eBook — hoping to reach lots more readers.

Okay, so maybe its journey wasn’t THAT interesting, but I figure it’s important to share the background and give props to Post Secret, TCAN, and Metal Scratches. So there you have it. And below, I have the eBook trailer. Enjoy. And please share with friends, retweet, visit my FB page, and, oh yeah — buy a copy of the book and lend it out. 🙂

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Posted by Robyn | in eBook Short Stories, eBooks & online short stories, Kindles, Nooks | Comments Off on My latest eBook Short Story for Kindle, Nooks, & More