Forgotten April Named Finalist in 2012 Book Bundlz Contest

Apr. 3rd 2012

I’m excited to announce that my novel Forgotten April is a finalist in the 2012 Book Bundlz “Book Pick” contest. And guess what? You can help me win. Book Bundlz “Clubies” vote for the winner.

It’s free to become a Clubie, and you can vote once a day from now until voting closes on 4/26. If you love the book and/or you love the idea of helping me out, I encourage you to vote.

Here are some other ways you can help:

  • Spread the word (on FB, Twitter, Google+, or any of the other places you hang out).
  • If you have read the book and you liked it, consider leaving a review on Goodreads or on the bookstore website where you bought it from.

Thanks in advance for all of your support!

By the way…Book Bundlz is a really cool site…it’s all about books, book clubs, and the readers who love both. Poke around and have some fun. Enjoy!

xoxo

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Posted by Robyn | in Contests, Forgotten April | 6 Comments »

Three Firsts…

Sep. 1st 2011
  1. I told someone that my second novel is coming out in October. Here’s what he said (via email): “Will I be able to get it on my Nook? Or in store?” (Notice the order of those two phrases.)
  2. I was driving through the winding roads of my apartment complex, and I spotted a young woman walking up a hill, her attention completely focused on her Kindle.
  3. I’m reading Lolita, one of those classics I’d never gotten around to checking out. I bought it from Annie’s Book Stop, a wonderful indie bookstore that’s hosted my writers’ group for the last 6.5 years. The owner closed the shop this past weekend, and he’s had these amazing “everything must go” sales.” I bought Lolita for 50 cents. When I was reading it in bed the other night, sand poured out from between the pages (that’s a first for me…and not something that’s likely to happen with my Nook).

What interesting things have happened to you this week?

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Posted by Robyn | in e-readers, eBooks, Random | 4 Comments »

The Reviews Are In

Aug. 2nd 2011

July was a fun month.

I spent the bulk of it working on revisions for my second novel, What Happened in Granite Creek, which comes out in October. I was also on a virtual blog tour for Forgotten April, and, at the same time, the reviews started coming in fast and furious for da book.

I made a little video that recaps some of the highlights. It’s below (and if you’re reading this post via email, click here if you can’t see the video):

You can read the complete reviews by visiting the Forgotten April product page on Amazon, on B&N, or on Goodreads. Remember, it’s only 99 cents. So if you like women’s fiction (or if you know someone who does), consider checking it out. It’s also available in paperback.

Okay, end of shameless self-promotion. I’ll be back with some non-promotional posts soon — promise! A topic I need to cover is research, because something interesting happened in the 11th hour of my July revisions, and I think it’s important for both writers and readers to know about. Aaand I’ll be unveiling the cover art for What Happened in Granite Creek veddy, veddy soon, my pretties. I’m all sorts of excited about it and the book, which is quite a departure from Forgotten April.

What was that about stopping the self-promotion? Starting now!

Tell me what you did during your July.

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Posted by Robyn | in Book Reviews | 4 Comments »

Titles that Titillate (or something like that)

Mar. 18th 2011

Some of you may know that I’m a freelance copywriter (Copy Bitch) by day. My so-called specialties include writing taglines, punchy headlines, and pithy ad copy. I’m fast. Churning out pith is easy for me. Unless, of course, it involves titling my novel.

For some reason, titling my short stories hasn’t been an issue. Maybe it’s easier for me to see the title in shorter pieces. But my novel? Heck, this thing has gone through no fewer than four titles in ten years.

Titles, like cover art, are a big deal because they’re often a reader’s first introduction to the book. In my mind, effective book titles must:

  • Capture a person’s attention
  • Capture a person’s imagination
  • Be memorable
  • Tell a story without giving away the whole story
  • Work with the cover art, not compete with it
  • Did I mention be memorable?

In this digital age, it also helps if the title you choose doesn’t compete with phrases that already have a ton of indexed pages on Google or that already exist in, say, the Amazon store. So originality should also be part of the list, even though you know what they say about originality — there’s no such thing.

Brevity is important as well. Looking at the top 20 on Kindle, I’m seeing three with one-word titles (Unbroken, Switched, Killer) and most of the rest are two- or three-word titles (Saving Rachel, Water for Elephants). The one exception on length is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (which I think is a great title and, of course, is consistent with the whole “The Girl Who…” brand).

So how did I finally come up with Forgotten April for my book (cover art to the right)? It kind of just hit me after much stressing and much brainstorming (some of which I did with my fab copy editor). When I wrote it for the first time, I had an a-ha moment: That’s it, I thought. I hadn’t felt that way with any of my other titles. Why was I so sure about this one? Well, the title has double meaning, one that will be obvious early on and another that will be revealed towards the end. Double meaning is something I appreciate in a title (obviously not all titles are going to have it, but for this book it makes sense).

Oh, and in case you’re curious as to the other titles I’d used, here they are (and most of ’em are stinkers):

  • The Lucky Ones Die
  • Permission to Be
  • Petrichor
  • Truth (Lost & Found)

How do you come up with titles? Share in the comments.

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Posted by Robyn | in Self publishing | 5 Comments »

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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Great Source of Kindle eBooks for 99 Cents

Jan. 11th 2011

Here’s a great source of indie Kindle eBooks for 99 cents – bookmark the page.The owner is keeping it updated (and yes, yours truly has several of her books included in the list — many thanks to Tyler for putting it together).

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Posted by Robyn | in eBooks & online short stories, Kindles | Comments Off on Great Source of Kindle eBooks for 99 Cents

e-Reader Device Debate – Why I Chose a Nook

Oct. 12th 2010

Ready to hear my reason for choosing a Nook, B&N’s official e-reader? I’d like to say I did months of research and pored over reports and reviews. But here’s the truth.

I’d been thinking about the e-reader thing for a little while and simply decided to pull the trigger. I ordered a Kindle 2 (3G) on July 23, 2010. Why the Kindle? I think I’m a perfect example of how marketing can work. I felt familiar with the brand name, and I’m “comfortable” with Amazon. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with the e-reader most people had (or so it seemed to me).

I WAS VERY EXCITED. (It was an all-caps-shouting sort of excited.)

I tracked my shipment as it left the warehouse and traveled to PA and then CT and then Chelmsford, Mass., on July 26, 2010, where, sadly, it remains. I think. Or perhaps it has been resold on eBay or something. (I like to think that maybe my Kindle ran off with another package, perhaps a big, rich iPad that stole her heart away a la Toy Story).

The Amazon folks were happy to send me a replacement ASAP. The problem, as I reminded the customer service rep when I called on Thursday, July 29, 2010, was that Amazon had just announced it had sold out of its Kindles and that it wouldn’t be shipping the next generation until early September.

I didn’t want to wait. (Yes, I’m working on the patience thingy.)

A guy from my writers group has a Nook and loves it. So I called him, asked him some questions, and decided to go with that. In hindsight, I’m glad I did because I was able to waltz into Barnes & Noble (on Sunday, 8/1/10, for those keeping track), buy one, and have them set it up and give me the lay of the land. Also, you can go to B&N with your Nook and read any book for free for up to one hour a day. And there are special deals when you’re in store — special free downloads and discounts on books plus coupons for the cafes etc.

The only issue I’ve had with the Nook — which is a known issue and a software update will likely fix — is it occasionally freezes up. I need to try popping out the battery in the back because that fixed the issue for my friend’s Nook, but I need a teeny screwdriver and have been lazy about getting one.

I don’t really think you can go wrong with either a Kindle or Nook. If you have the bucks, an iPad would be nice, but I hear from friends who have iPads in addition to an e-reader like a Kindle, that the iPad is heavier and more unwieldy to carry around.

If you need more scientific research behind the dozens of e-readers already out there (Border’s has a $99 version) and the others that will show up before Christmas, follow The Digital Reader blog and browse the archives.

So what made you opt for your e-reader? Was it as scientific as my approach or…? Let me know in the comments.

You can also check out my Facebook page where I polled fans on what e-readers they chose and why (oh, and become a fan if you’re not already!) 🙂

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Posted by Robyn | in e-readers, iPads, Kindles, Nooks | 4 Comments »