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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Published Writing

Posted on April 9, 2015. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , , , |

My short story, “What Are the Odds,” was published in the March 2015 edition of the Northern Virginia Review.  Read all about it or purchase a copy here.

The publication had a nice author reception, with a few readings and some free copies of the issue. It was fun to be around other creative writers for the afternoon.  And, I must admit, it felt good to see my name printed in a thick magazine with a bunch of other authors.  Usually, when I see my name in lights (yes, the issue came with built-in LEDs) it’s beside other storytellers announcing an upcoming storytelling show. I am proud of all of those shows, but my heart did an extra leap or two at seeing my story published, like, in print.  I’ll have to try it again sometime.

The short nonfiction piece was an adaptation of a spoken word story I told for Better Said Than Done. I have performed over thirty original, true, personal stories at this point in my storytelling career. I don’t write all of the stories out. In fact, as I have gotten more comfortable with the true, personal storytelling format, I rarely write my stories out anymore. Luckily, “What Are the Odds” was one story I had felt needed to be worked through on a computer, since it made use of percentages as a motif, and I am not great with numbers. The fact that it was already in written form made it an obvious choice for a story to submit for publication.

I did rewrite it a bit before submitting it for consideration. It is much easier to adapt a performed story I have written out to the page than to adapt one I have created entirely in my head, not only because it saves me from having to type it out, but also because the way purely spoken stories are formed.  Stories sound more like conversation when you “write” them in your head and through speaking aloud, which is great, if the goal is to perform them. If the goal is to get a story published, the additional work in translating one amounts to basically writing the whole story – other than the structure – from scratch.  The way we read is different from the way we listen. Therefore, the way I write for a listener is different than the way I write for a reader.

That being said, “What Are the Odds” is the second story I have had published that stemmed from a story I first performed. I’m thinking I have about 28 other stories I should see about whipping into shape for publication. I think I’ll start with the ones that are already written out.

 

 

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Not so much an ending…

Posted on March 17, 2014. Filed under: storytelling | Tags: , , , , , |

A while back I posted about how the end was nigh – meaning the end of my writing career as I knew it. I was referring to the fact that I was about to have a baby. While it is true that all of my free time, and most of my quality sleep time, have vanished, all is not lost.

I was afraid for my writing career on two fronts. First, the lack of time. And yeah, that part I am still trying to work out. Secondly, that I would become one of those people who could only talk about their kids and that there’d be no more creative storytelling. I mean, seriously, you can only tell so many “my kid is a genius” stories before people start to get bored.
baby stories
Happily, I believe, I have not completely dried up on original storytelling. Of course, my novel is pure fiction and has very little, if anything, to do with babies. Then, I just told a true, personal story for Better Said Than Done a few nights ago that also had nothing to do with babies, or at least, actual babies. (It was about a guy I dated who was a child in his own right, but old enough to feed himself and not need diapers.) So, it seems, I can keep mining those classic life events.
But I have told two baby stories, I must confess. My hope is that I have found ways to make potentially stale, overused, material seem fresh.

My first post baby, baby story was actually about breastfeeding, and how it doesn’t quite stand up to all the wonderful descriptions of it they sell you in the baby books. My follow up story was about my pregnancy, and how that was a bit of a nightmare for me, in what I am pretty sure was an unique experience. Both stories went over very well with the live audiences, and have been viewed quite a bit online. (At least as compared to my other stories)

Maybe telling stories about a huge, life changing experience that happens to be shared by a lot of people isn’t the worst thing you could do.  Maybe I’ll even tell a few more.  In fact, I have been working on this great one about how my baby is a genius!

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The End is Nigh

Posted on July 24, 2013. Filed under: writing | Tags: , , , , |

Maybe I am being a bit too dramatic, but it is a little hard to feel like my writing career, the thing I have been working on in my spare time because it brings in no money, is not about to come to an end.  Or, at least, a long hiatus.  And the reason why? I am about to get a little bundle of joy, and a huge sucker of time and money.

Jessica Pregnant

That’s right, I am having me a baby. And I am really excited.  I don’t want to sound like a terrible mother just yet.  I assume I will hear that a lot in oh, about 12 years.  But, for now, at least, I am looking forward to the arrival of my little angel, really, even if it seems like I have to put some of those other little things, like my hopes and dreams, on hold.

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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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Will Write for Money, Maybe

Posted on November 1, 2012. Filed under: writing | Tags: , , |

I occasionally get paid to write – which is awesome, right?  In a way, that’s my dream come true. Doing what I love for a living. But, unfortunately, I don’t mean that I get paid to write fiction. Instead, I get paid by corporate clients to write for them.

Now, I admit, I enjoy the work. I am a writer because I like to write, so doing that as part of my day job can be a lot of fun, and gratifying. However, writing, for myself or for a client,  is exhausting! I said that to my husband once and he said “Why? You are just sitting at a computer all day. That’s what we all do.” And I had to admit, he had me there. But I ran the same thought past a friend of mine and she said “writing is exhausting because it requires constant decision making. Every word you put down, or don’t put down, is a choice. And making choices is hard work!”

So then, what happens to my ability to churn out a new chapter or story after a day or several days of writing for money?  I have often thought about making more of a business career out of my writing. Blogging for others, for example, or doing more marketing writing – which is where my occasional work comes from. I would like to think that it would have no impact, or at least no negative impact, on my personal writing career, but the fact of the matter is, the last thing I really want to do after a day of writing is write.

It’s taking me long enough already to finish my novel. If I never felt like writing it, it would never get done.  I don’t know if everyone feels this way, or if it’s just my quirky artistic genius side acting up.  I guess it doesn’t matter what works for other people. For me, I think, I am going to have to try to keep the paid writing to a minimum, until, of course, that fateful day when my agent tells me they want the sequel, stat!  I am sure that will be exhausting as well, but probably a bit more gratifying when it’s your own work you’re getting paid to work on.

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The Business Side of Writing

Posted on September 15, 2012. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , |

I struggle with juggling making money and having a writing career. I guess the fact that it is not much of a career is really why it requires so much juggling. Every now and then I get paid $75, $100, even $200 once, for a commentary or for a storytelling gig or one day maybe for a “published” work, but you can’t live on every now and then.

I decided to start teaching storytelling because, as part of the workshopping we do before all our shows I am already teaching, partly because I think a lot of people would like to learn how to write and perform a true, personal story, and partly because I want to make some money!

I have a day job. I can support myself with my career, my “real” career, but that is not my dream. I’d like to earn money as a writer. I want that to be my real career. Teaching isn’t exactly the same as selling my novel, but it is a bit closer to where I want to be, and if I am making money helping other writers learn the craft, then at least writing will be a part of my day job, not just my daydreams.

Our first storytelling workshop is on October 13th. Hope to see you there. I could use the money!

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Writer Etiquette

Posted on August 28, 2012. Filed under: writing | Tags: , , |

Writing is not a very thank filled job. I wouldn’t say it’s entirely without it’s perks. When you churn out some amazing piece of literary genius, it can be fairly gratifying, even if no one reads it, but, for the most part, writers aren’t going around getting loads of praise, or loads of money, or loads fans everywhere they turn.  So it is really nice to have a support group to turn to for the occasional pat on the back or just a smiley face scribbled on a returned critique. I am very appreciative of my writing family.

However, sometimes a person comes along who does not understand the ironically unwritten rules of a writing circle.  Occasionally someone does not respect the way it is and always should be, and they take advantage of the one measly little buoy that us drowning writers have to hold onto. I am speaking, of course, about the users and flatleavers of the creative writing circle.

Here is the deal, if we insecure and artistic souls open our arms and welcome you into our worlds, real and fictional, then there are a few things we expect in return. Rather than blather on about the oh so many ways I have seen the literary pond scum abuse the system, I will just spell out, in much too obvious detail, writer etiquette.

1. Upon joining a writing circle, plan on staying for some time. Now, if you instantly hate everyone in the group, or find it is just not your thing, get out fast. Don’t dawdle for a few meetings and then leave us all wondering what we did to make you abandon us.  Get out fast or commit to the long haul.

2. This is minor, but don’t submit your work for the very first meeting – unless it is the very first meeting of the group in general. If it is a pre-existing group and they have asked you to visit – to assess if you do in fact want to marry your writing career to theirs – then don’t make your first meeting with them all about you. Take the time to get to know them a little before making them read through your masterpiece.

3. To follow up on that, attend meetings even if you didn’t submit your own work. This is my biggest pet peeve. I have seen it time and again. A member will submit their chapter or story or what have you, show up for the critique, praise, etc., and then skip the next meeting or two, before returning when they again have something to submit. There is nothing worse than someone who expects you to help them when they are unwilling to help you.

4. Last but not least, put some effort into your critique. I can’t say write a good critique, because everyone’s editorial skills are different, but at least try to do right by the work. I can’t say be nice in your criticism, because everyone’s personality is different, but don’t just point out all the bad parts.  Try to explain to the writer what you liked, what you didn’t like, and why. Just do your best to help them create their best.

I am so grateful for all the wonderful advice, suggestions, and comments I have received over the years from some very smart and talented writer friends. I just wish all the writers in all the circles of support out there could follow a few basic rules.

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Do Tears Mean It’s Good?

Posted on August 23, 2012. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I will be the first to admit, I cry pretty easily – especially at the movies, or reading a book, or hearing a really touching story. And you know what? I like it. Yep. I like when stories make me cry.

So, what about when my own writing makes me cry? Does that mean it’s good or that I am too attached?  I am trying to work this out, because quite a few of my own stories make me cry.  I know, I am weird, but I write the kind of stuff I would like to read, so there you go.

I write fiction as well as true, personal stories. I am currently working on a story about my mom and my dog, for this Saturday’s storytelling performance, when they were both sick, and I keep crying when I get to the end!  Now, obviously, I have a personal connection to the story. It’s true and I lived through it and there are some very emotional events that took place. Hence, the crying. But just because it moves me, does it mean that it will move other people?

I have (I say with puffed out chest) made people cry with my stories before. It’s very gratifying. 🙂 But there is a fine line between indulging your own emotional catharsis and creating art and, especially with true stories, that is a hard line to walk. Just because this story is making me cry, doesn’t mean it will work it’s magic onion powers on others. Hopefully, Saturday will be another successful telling and no one will throw tomatoes. (Although I have never had anyone throw a tomato at me, so don’t know how bad that would actually be.)

Then there’s my fiction writing that makes me cry. I wrote this fantastic (I do say so myself) short story about a young married couple who had to deal with cancer.  Every time I revised the ending, I found myself balling. I mean, it was good stuff! But I was told publishers don’t like cancer stories. Too depressing. And so far, no publisher has proved me wrong and bought it, so is it better to stick with lighter content?

But books like “Cold Mountain,” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” and “The Poisonwood Bible,” all favorites of mine, totally make you cry. There is no way you could get to the end of “Cold Mountain” without balling. And I am pretty sure all three of those books sold more than a dozen copies. So it’s not just me out there liking to cry.

I guess there needs to be more to it than just tears. I still think my cancer story was good, but maybe not as catchy as a time traveling husband. The emotional content is still important, but maybe context is as well.

Writing is a journey and we’ll see how this all develops. At least by Saturday night I will know if my most recent creation is art or just a failed public therapy session.

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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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