Gratitude & Shout Outs

Apr. 13th 2011

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention all the wonderful, talented people who are helping to bring my little book to life. I highly recommend these folks. Here they are, in no particular order:

1106 Design: I’ve mentioned them before, but they did the cover art for Forgotten April (as well as all of my other books). They’re based out of Arizona, and they’re incredibly nice, pleasant, helpful, and prompt — all those things you dream about in a vendor but wonder if it’s possible to find anymore.

Laura Matthews at thinkStory.biz: copy editor and story editor extraordinaire. Get her while you can, folks. Laura has a novel she’s releasing this summer, and it’s good. DAMN good. I think great things are in store for her — and that she won’t be doing copy editing of others’ work for too much longer. (But, Laura, if you’re reading this, you’re still committed to editing my book #2 in August, ok? :))

Jennessa Durrani at Celebrate: Jennessa is one of the most creative people I know…and she’s also one of the nicest. Seriously, I’ve never seen her get annoyed or irked…and we work together on some of my copywriting clients’ stuff, which ain’t always easy. I’ve been using Jennessa for a bunch of things, including banner ads that I’m running on various sites.

And she’s created a cool bookmark, which I’m stuffing into about 500 gift bags for The Exceptional Women Awards, an event Magic 106.7 in Boston hosts. I worked for Magic for a long time, so I’m exploiting leveraging this connection.  You may be wondering why a bookmark for eBooks…well…I’m releasing a print version as well. And it *should* be ready and live by the time these hit the goodie bags.

Cold Spring Design. These are my fabulous web dudes. They designed and built the site (including the CMS [content management system] so that I can have total control over updates. Me likes to be in control…muahahahahahah). They also are my go-to resource for when files need to be crunched to a certain size or when I have other questions.

eBook Architects. I can’t stress this enough to self-pubbed writers. Unless you’re a total tech geek, you should outsource your eBook conversions. Formatting is critical (many of us indie writers receive flack for poor formatting, and there’s really no excuse for having it). Take pride in the appearance of your words as much as you do in the words themselves. I know it might seem easy to do the conversion yourself, but it’s so, so, SO easy to miss something or screw up a couple of pages or whatever.

I just contracted a designer who specializes in interior book design (for print books), spines, and back covers. She was recommended on Joe Konrath’s blog. She seems great so far; I’ll report back with her info and will include images of her work when it’s done.Enhanced by Zemanta

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Cover Art for eBooks

Mar. 10th 2011

Here’s the cover art for my novel.

One of the pros of self-publishing is you have control over the cover art process. One of the cons of self-publishing is you have control over the covert art process. 🙂

It’s mostly a pro, I think. I use the folks at 1106 Design out in Arizona. I’ve been reading up on cover art for eBooks and worshipping at the altar of Joe Konrath who is kinda like the Jesus of self-publishing. He has strong opinions about cover art, but also good insight (here’s an eBook cover he loves).

Creating eBook cover art is a bit different than creating cover art that appears only on books you’d find in brick and mortar stores, although many of the basic principles still apply, of course. (And since almost all books in bookstores are also sold online, designers need to consider how their designs translate to digital covers.)

All covers need to communicate a story and fit with the title and genre. People judge books by their covers all the time, and this still holds true for eBooks.The biggest difference is that eBook covers need to reduce well and still “pop” in thumbnail size. No easy feat.

I think the best cover out of my short stories is for “The Object,” which, interestingly enough is my least favorite piece.

That probably sounds weird, I’m sure, but whether people are willing to admit it or not, I imagine most writers have favorites when it comes to their own work. My issue with “The Object” isn’t the story; it’s that it’s flash fiction. I’m finding so many people are wary of short stories. To throw flash into the mix, well — it truly is a niche (and not for everyone).

One of my favorite bloggers, Ghenet, had this great post on YA covers — she includes images from some of her faves, and they’re all brilliant. She makes a good point in her post — she doesn’t like covers that show faces because she likes to decide what the character looks like and is irked when the cover art doesn’t match the image in her mind. I was VERY aware of this issue (even before I read Ghenet’s post) when working on this cover with my design team. I’m hoping I give just enough face — green eyes and red hair are relevant to this story and mentioned a bunch of times — without ruining the imagining part for the reader. We’ll see.

(Although as I write this post, it’s funny to note that I violate the face rule with “The Object” and a couple of my other short stories…for some reason, the issue feels more urgent to me with the novel.)

I also opt to keep my name small. Unless I’m Jodi-Picoult huge, my name isn’t going to carry much weight — the title and the image have to do all the work, for now.

How ’bout you? Can you think of some recent covers that dazzled you? Did the book live up to the cover’s promise? Or have you encountered a great story with a mediocre cover? Share in the comments — include links if you want.

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Posted by Robyn | in eBook cover art, eBooks | 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

What is Flash Fiction?

Jan. 17th 2011

Definitions abound. I’m going to give you mine. Flash fiction (or micro fiction) is ultra-short fiction, usually under 1000 words. Some publications that specialize in flash might require even fewer words than that (I’ve seen 750 and even 500 words).

To me, successful flash has a clear beginning, middle, and end. But keep this in mind: a clear end doesn’t always mean a resolved ending. The short stories I love the most are ones that are satisfying as is, but also leave me wondering about what happens next. No easy feat for a writer.

It’s a fun form to experiment with, and it’s an informative form to experiment with, simply because it forces the writer to consider every. Single. Word. Which he or she should be doing anyway, right? But it’s easier to let some of those flights of fancy and purple prose slip by when you’re working on a longer short story or a novel. Flash is all about the economy of words and packing the most emotional punch with the fewest words.

It’s also fun to read when it’s done well.

So what’s your definition of flash fiction? Do you enjoy reading it? Do you have any favorite flash “finds” that you want to share or, even better, link to? Please leave ’em in the comments (note: as of the writing of this post, I moderate comments, only to ensure the mortgage-credit-help-viagra-cash-for-gold spammers don’t get through).

Here’s the trailer for my flash fiction, “The Object.”


Check out the story and let me know what you think. It’s only 99 cents ($1 in some places, depending on where you buy it), and you can download it to your Kindle, Nook, and more…or you can read it on your PC…or print it out.

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Posted by Robyn | in Creative Writing, Uncategorized | Comments Off on What is Flash Fiction?

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

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

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 »