Books

Urban Fantasy Novel Caged by JP Robinson

Posted on October 20, 2016. Filed under: Books, writing | Tags: , , , , , |

I have been busy finishing and publishing my first novel, Caged.  I’m so excited it’s finally here and available for purchase.

Caged, by JP Robinson

Caged is an urban fantasy set in modern day Northern Virginia.  I describe it as “X-Files” meets “Die Hard.”

Or, for a slightly longer description, there’s this:

A scientist and the federal agent who is hoping to keep her alive are trapped in a building with a horde of hungry vampires. It wouldn’t be that unusual of a night, if it weren’t for the zombies.

I have been busy with writing the book, publishing the book, promoting the book and working on the sequel. I have sadly neglected this blog. However, I have, as part of promoting my urban fantasy trilogy, launched a new website and a new blog. If you’d like to follow the journey of Caged, and the V to Z Trilogy, you can find me at JPRobinsonWriter.com.  I hope to see you there, at book signings, and, as always, at my storytelling shows.

 

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Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel

Posted on August 13, 2014. Filed under: Books, writing | Tags: , , , |

Nope, not mine. Not yet, anyway. 🙂 Actually, I am pretty sure the only prize my first completed novel will win will be something like the “Best Beach Read of 2015,” or “Best novel to turn into an awesome summer movie!” I would be pretty happy with either of those.

But while seeking out representation – yes, still looking for a literary agent (apparently they don’t respond overnight) – and continuing to work on the sequel to my first novel, I have been reading a lot of other books.

Now, I don’t like to say bad things about books, in general, because I know how hard it is to write a book. And, having never had a novel published, I don’t exactly have the right to speak ill of other people’s successful careers. So I am going to try to say this without sounding like a horrible person – I don’t understand why The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer. I recently finished reading it and I really don’t get it. I liked the first half of the book. I cared about the main character. My heart broke for him. I thought the writing was amazing. And then it took a turn down an unbelievable alley and my sympathy for the main character disappeared along the way and I found it really hard to force myself to get to the end of the book when I just wasn’t buying it.

But it won the Pulitzer! I mean, it has to be great, right? Okay, okay, so there’s at least one other book that has won in the last decade that I don’t think deserved it, but mostly I have loved many of the books on the list. Mostly, I think they have chosen well. Which is why I have such a problem with this one. I keep thinking, what am I not getting? Is it because I have gotten old and my brain is too small to understand the genius of the book? Or maybe it’s because my life has had so many disasters in it now that I have survived this long, that I just prefer happier books?

I don’t know. So, here’s my question. Is it just me? Have I lost my reading taste buds? Or is it that maybe, just maybe, the Pulitzer Prize is not always given to the most fantastic book?

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Done!

Posted on May 7, 2014. Filed under: Books, writing | Tags: , , , , , |

Novel Writing

I did it! I am done. I typed “the end,” and I meant it!

Yeah, so, like, three weeks ago, I finished writing my very first novel. Phew! It’s about time, too. Two and a half years of work – done! It feels great. Not quite like giving birth (having done that recently too, I should know), but kind of like creating a new life.

I have been keeping very busy since completing the novel. First of all, lots of getting back to my day job (I kind of crammed the completion of this book once the end was in sight). But I have also revised the entire book, after sending it to a few trusted readers for comments and critique.

While writing this novel, I realized I was writing the first book of a trilogy, so now I have two more books to write. Big sigh! But having finished one, I know I can write the next two.

There were a lot of things I figured out along the way. The good news is, I have a really clear idea of what I want the second and third book to be about, what the main plots points are, and who the main characters are. I had to work through a lot of that for the first book. My hope is that the next two will take no more than a year each.

In the meantime, I have sent a query letter off to a literary agency. It’s a bit ballsy, but I would like to have an agent represent my first book while I work on the next two. Seems like a good plan to me. So, you know, if you are an awesome literary agent looking for a great speculative fiction trilogy, let me know and I swear you will love my query letter!

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What I Learned from Sharp Objects

Posted on June 16, 2013. Filed under: Books | Tags: , , , , , |

I have been confined to my bed. It sounds so romantic when you say it that way. Better than “bed rest,” in any case.  And, in truth, thankfully, they have recently given me permission to do things like sit up, so it’s more like chair rest.

Still, for the sake of the monster growing in my belly, I am supposed to take it easy, which means I get to do a little summer reading, a couple weeks early.

I figured I would try to find a few good books that may be similar in style or content to the novel I am trying to finish.  I had heard a lot of good things about “Gone Girl,” which seems to be this season’s “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” but when I went to buy it on Amazon, I liked the premise of “Sharp Objects” better, so got that one instead.

I was very happy with the book – which took me about 3 bed rest days to read. I am not about to write a review of it other than to say it moved at a quick pace, kept me interested, and I liked and sympathized with the main character.

What was great for me, personally, was to see how much detail and information Gillian Flynn included about location and character in each chapter.  My critics – meaning friends who are reading my chapters for me – keep telling me that my novel is moving too quickly, that they need me to give them more information about the characters, about the world I am creating.  And I keep balking. I am writing an action/thriller after all.  It should move quickly.  I don’t want to slow it down or bore people with too much information.

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Thoughts on The Shipping News

Posted on May 13, 2013. Filed under: Books | Tags: , , , , |

Last week I finished reading “The Shipping News” by E. Annie Proulx.  I realize I am about 15 years behind on that trend, but a friend lent me the book and I remember hearing it was supposed to be good.  And it was very good. I highly recommend reading it.

The reason I wanted to write about it, as opposed to the many, many books I read and don’t blog about, is because I thought the style of writing was so unique that it seemed worth mentioning.  The book is about Quoyle, a 30 something man with a pretty unsuccessful life that he’s been a bit of a bystander to.  A series of events occur and he ends up moving with his aunt and two daughters to Newfoundland, where the way of life is a bit different.  Then his life changes.

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I Got Published, like, in a book!

Posted on January 30, 2013. Filed under: Books, writing | Tags: , , |

I told this little story a few years ago at a show called “Sucker for Love.” It’s an annual event that I think has run for four or five years. They decided to publish some of the best stories from the past years in a compilation. I am so excited to be a part of this project!
sucker-for-love-187x300

The book will be released on Amazon and Barnes & Noble by February 14th – yes, in time for everybody’s favorite holiday – but you can pre-order the book now, at a reduced rate, from the publisher’s website. Check it out and buy it for the low, low price of just $10 here.

Just a little note on the writing process. My story in the book, “The Game,” was originally written to be performed as spoken word. In other words, it was written for people to listen to. I, and the other authors, had to adapt our stories to fit the written format, filling in details, translating verbal, sarcastic, or audible clues into words on a page, and, to a degree, fleshing out our otherwise brief stories to make a more complete version. It was an interesting challenge and I hope to be asked to do it again someday.

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What I Learned from Neil Gaiman and Al Madrigal

Posted on October 15, 2012. Filed under: Books, writing | Tags: , , |

Recently my life has involved a lot of writers – and I like it! Not that I have become besties with any of them (though I got to meet 3 very talented published writers at the Fall for the Book Drive – Read about it here), but I have managed to glean a little bit of wisdom from these successful writers.

First off, I got to see Neil Gaiman speak as part of the George Mason Fall for the Book Festival.  He did some readings, answered some questions and mostly looked and sounded adorable. I think it’s the English thing. I am sure he would hate to be described as adorable, but I can’t help it. I think he’s cute, and adorable.

Aside from having my school girl crush reinvigorated, I did actually learn two, hopefully, maybe, important lessons.

1. Whenever possible, be adorable.  Okay, so maybe we can’t all come built with a cute British accent (and please don’t fake one – it so doesn’t work), but I truly believe Neil Gaiman sells so many books, gets to write for TV and the movies and is as successful as he is based partly on the fact that he is likeable. Not to diminish his talent as a writer, because he’s a great writer, but flocks of fans don’t necessarily gather to hear every great writer when they are speaking. This is the third time I have seen Neil Gaiman at a public event and he always gets mobbed. I mean, people love him, not just his books, but him. So, if possible, be adorable. If not, at least try to be presentable.

2. Write. And then write more. And then write some more. This was actually something he said when asked about how to become a successful writer.  It’s obvious and everyone knows this, but knowing and understanding are sometimes different things.  His point was that there are a lot of good writers out there, a lot of great writers, but the ones who make it, the ones who get published, are the ones who are persistent.  He reiterated this point in several ways but the point was always the same – write, and then write some more.

Al Madrigal is a comedian and writer for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  The other day I got to see the Daily Show on Tour.  I was not expecting to get pearls of wisdom at the event. I thought I was going for laughs, but after the stand up comedy portion of the event, Al Madrigal, John Hodgman and Adam Lowitt hung out and answered questions. It was very cool. Again, I got a couple of ideas, lessons, thoughts from some of the (more…)

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Fall for the Book

Posted on September 30, 2012. Filed under: Books, writing | Tags: , , , , |

I recently volunteered to be a driver at George Mason’s annual “Fall for the Book.” Basically, I was supposed to pick up authors who were featured in the Fall for the Book series, drive them to their reading, and then return them safely to their hotel. It turns out it made more sense to walk them than to drive them in most cases, so next year I am going to insist on being called a volunteer walker. Might not have the best ring to it, but gosh darn it, it’s accurate!

I had a great time volunteering. I got to meet and speak one on one with three very different authors, not to mention attending their readings and Q&A sessions.

The first author I escorted was Mat Johnson. I am currently reading his novel Pym. I am really enjoying it. The main character hooks you right from page one. Sadly, I did not finish it before meeting him, but mostly I spent my time asking him about writing as a career. I wish I had some great advice to impart, but mostly I was just amazed to learn that he has a day job, as do the other two authors I met, and he said even Toni Morrison has a day job!

We need to pay writers better so they can quit their day jobs to have more time to write. I’ll start the petition later this week – as soon as I get all my work done at my day job.
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90% Motivation

Posted on July 6, 2012. Filed under: Books, writing | Tags: , , , , |

What’s that old saying about inspiration and perspiration? Well, being a lady, I don’t perspire, I sweat. Oh, wait, never mind.

My challenge with writing isn’t about inspiration.  Thankfully still got loads of ideas.  And it isn’t so much about perspiration. I work hard for no money! But it is completely about motivation.

For the past six months I have been working on a novel that I am just in love with. It is some of my best writing. I think I have a great idea – and one that could sell! My writing circle has given mostly positive feedback on all my submitted chapters, and I want to get this baby done.

So why haven’t I? Well, like many famous actors certainly say every day, “what’s my motivation?”

With storytelling, we have a show that must go on. I have a deadline – the show.  Plus, I have an audience and instant gratification (that’s the hope, anyway) when they applaud my story.

With writing a novel I have none of that. I set my own deadline, but it’s arbitrary. There’s nothing definite at the end date other than to try to get a publisher to buy it.  There might be an audience, if it gets published, but there is a lot of uncertainty around if that will ever happen.

I find it hard to choose to work on my novel when I could, say, write a story for my next show, or blog about my last show, or do work, the stuff I get paid to do. What’s a super talented, as yet undiscovered, amazing author with no motivation to do?

I am getting by with a little help from my friends. (Man, I am a walking pop culture billboard today!) I was telling a friend of mine about my issue – just like in a Yaz commercial – and she gave me the answer!

She has a small circle of friends who “meet” once a week to check in about goals. It’s essentially an accountability support group. Each week we are supposed to state our goals for the coming week and report in on how we did with last week’s goals. This is perfect for me. I won’t do it for myself, but I will do it if someone else is watching. Okay, that sounded wrong.

My point is, I now feel like I have to do what I have set out to do because if I don’t, well, other people will know what a loser I am.  It’s a great way to keep on track. Kind of like a Weight Watchers meeting for people with writing problems – or goals.  This is week one of this new experiment and I did make it all the way to Friday before I tried to work on my goals – but then I realized I only have a couple days left to make the magic happen so I sat down this morning and started typing, and then got up and made coffee, and then started typing again, and then fooled around on Facebook, and then started typing again. You get the idea.

Every time I wandered off, I kept thinking in the back of my head, “Think of the complete and utter humiliation you will suffer if you don’t finish that chapter!”  And even though they seem like a very nice group of people, it is more helpful for me to just assume that they will cast aspersions on me if I fail in week one! Cause that’s mo

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Torn

Posted on February 10, 2012. Filed under: Books, storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , , |

I am torn.

About 9 months ago I decided to launch a storytelling troupe, and Better Said Than Done was born. It has been fantastic and very quickly became what I would call very successful. As a group, we have three shows in the next two months. Our last show was standing room only – over 100 people. It keeps me very busy.

I have also, personally, gotten a lot of success in storytelling. I ran a storytelling workshop for a group of business women today, I am doing my first 30 minute (longest for me yet) storytelling show next week, and I have written some of my best stories in the last few months.

All great, right?

But here’s the clincher, about three or so months ago I got a great idea for a novel. Like lightening striking. I have written three chapters so far and they’re good. I mean, I know I may be biased, but stories like this don’t drop in your lap very often and I am motivated, inspired, and ready to run with it. And I really think it could be good. And get published!

But, of course, I have so many stories to write and tell and so many shows coming up that I am responsible for. I started Better Said Than Done because I love the art of storytelling and I wanted to tell more stories. Well, I succeeded.

Now I just need to learn how to juggle…all over again.

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