Book Trailer in Key West

You must be forewarned: this is going to be a gushing, exclamation point filled post, but that is what a moving experience it was for me in Key West last week, filming the book trailer for HEMINGWAY’S GIRL.

I must start by publicly acknowledging God and the huge blessings he pours over me on a daily basis, and my family for taking such good care of my boys while I was away. I also need to thank my publisher, NAL/Penguin, for producing this book trailer, and the incredible husband and wife team, David and Kathryn Seay, for their enthusiasm, kindness, and professionalism. They made me feel so comfortable from our first greeting, and put me entirely at ease.

When my husband and I arrived at The Pier House Resort in Key West–travel-weary and soaked from the rain–we were greeted by a surprise that left us speechless. The Pier House’s Catherine Smiley sent us to The Hemingway Suite overlooking the Gulf, and even had fruit and refreshments waiting for us!   We were able to use the gorgeous balcony for sunset and water footage. I am overwhelmed by the generosity and hospitality of The Pier House.

When we arrived at the Hemingway House on Thursday morning, Dave Gonzales, the events coordinator, graciously allowed us to film all throughout the house and grounds, but most importantly, in Hemingway’s Writing Studio.

I’ve only ever seen the studio from the other side of a locked gate. I don’t have to tell you what it meant to me to walk into the writing space where Hemingway typed the ending of A FAREWELL TO ARMS, GREEN HILLS OF AFRICA, and countless other stories. I was able to sit at his writing desk with his writing materials, and I am still trying to process the experience.

The trailer for HEMINGWAY’S GIRL will be ready later this summer, and I can’t wait to see it and share it with all of you. David and Kathryn were lovely to work with, and Dave Gonzales, the tour guides, and staff of the Hemingway House and bookstore were so welcoming. I can’t wait to see them when I return.

Last, but not least, I want to thank those of you who cheered me along the way. I am overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of my family and friends (online and off) who continuously support me throughout this process.

I’m glowing with gratitude.

Hemingway’s Girl Teaser: 7 Lines

I’ve been tagged by author, Kimberly Brock, whose novel THE RIVER WITCH comes out on April 6th. She said I had to do this:

1. Go to the 77th page of your WIP or latest book.
2. Count down 7 lines.
3. Copy the 7 sentences that follow, and post them.
4. Tag 7 other authors.

In this scene, my protagonist, Mariella (Hemingway’s maid) sits at an outdoor cafe with him, while he works in his notebook. Without further ado, here are seven lines from the 77th page of Hemingway’s Girl. (Though strangely, with WordPress formatting, it doesn’t look like seven lines.)

            “You know, I’m going to write a story about you, Mariella.”

            “Please don’t,” she said.


            “I won’t be used.”


            “When you put people on your pages, you take something away from them.”

            He looked at her closely, and then at his notebook. “I don’t want to share you with anyone, anyway.”  He drew a long, diagonal line over everything he’d written, and turned to a clean page.   

Now, I’ll tag these 7 brilliant authors to give us a tease:

1. Jenna Blum

2. Amy Nathan

3. Jennifer Lyn King

4. David Abrams

5. Ellen Marie Wiseman

6. Sophie Perinot

7. Lydia Netzer

I can’t wait to read their posts!

Author Photo Outtakes

Earlier this week at the fabulous Debutante Ball Blog, Erika Marks ruminated on the dreaded author photo–that terrifying and stressful bit of awkwardness that has to go on the published book. In a very unscientific poll, I found out that nine out of ten authors would rather write a synopsis than take an author photo. But there are so many bad author photos out there, how bad can yours actually be? If you simply select one of the categories of author photo cliches, at least you’ll know you’re not alone. For your amusement (and because Erika Marks double-dog-dared me) I’ve dedicated this post to author photo cliches and outtakes. I hope you enjoy it.

When I self-published my first novel, I scoured book jackets and author websites to see how writers posed. I found that the overwhelming majority of them stood by trees with their arms crossed, so that’s what I did.

What you don’t see in this picture are my three boys running around the yard like savages while I swat them away between takes. This picture worked well enough for my indie endeavor, but for my new novel (HEMINGWAY’S GIRL) with a traditional publisher, I wanted a new picture. The only thing I was sure about was that I didn’t want my face on my hand, because if an author isn’t standing next to a tree with her arms crossed, it’s likely that she’ll have her face on her hand.

I considered reaching back a bit in time to when my hair didn’t need chemical assistance to lighten it, and my skin glowed without make up. I worried, however, that people would be disappointed if they showed up for a signing and I didn’t look like this anymore.

Then I considered the on location, research with Hemingway shot, but truth be told, Hemingway looked a little creepy in this picture.

Then I thought about going for something a little more edgy. After all, writers from the past often posed with cigarettes. For obvious reasons, however, I vetoed these.


I even wondered if I should go for the truly authentic author photo–the one that captures the day-to-day life of the writer in the reading chair, with the dog, in PJs.

But, no. Just no.

Ultimately, I went to my hometown of Annapolis, Maryland with my friend and photographer Catherine Pelura. We walked the streets, chatted, and snapped photos as we went. Some of my favorite shots were the intense, thinking, gazing off into the distance photos.

I also liked the super-approachable, relaxed garden shot.

I sent several pictures to my publisher and told them to choose. And after all of that, guess which one they picked–the hand on the face shot.

I’m already thinking ahead to my next novel’s author photo. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are characters, and Zelda was known for jumping in fountains, so maybe I’ll use something like this:

Or we’ll walk the streets of Baltimore, where the book is mostly set, and snap pictures at the old Fitzgerald haunts around town. I’ve already prepared myself that of the fifty photos Catherine will take, I’ll end up picking the one of my hand holding up my head.

Now that I’ve humiliated myself with some of these pictures, I dare YOU (writer, yes you) to blog on some of your author photo ideas and outtakes.

The Little Writer That Could

I’m slowly emerging from the writing cave. My eyes are adjusting to the light. I’m sweeping the cobwebs off the blog and making sure everything’s in working order. I’ll be ready to put the wheels back in motion this week with a book review for one of my favorite fall books, but for now, I just want you to know that I’ve missed you and can’t wait to reconnect.

Here’s the deal: I had an aggressive deadline for my edits for HEMINGWAY’S GIRL because in October, my foreign rights agent is going to Frankfurt where, hopefully, she’ll get some foreign publishers interested in the book. The agent needs the complete, approved manuscript by October 1st, so I had to get my edits back to my editor at NAL/Penguin ASAP to give her enough time to read.

Now, if I have to make more changes, which is entirely possible and maybe even probable, we’ll miss the deadline. If my editor can’t get through the million other projects she has before October, that’s the way it goes. All I could do was rely heavily on family and babysitters, neglect my house, and not sleep to get the work done–which I did–but now it’s out of my hands, and I am at peace with that.

I’ll keep you posted every step of the way, as promised, but for now I look forward to a return to semi-normalcy, blogging, reading other people’s books, and diving back into my new manuscript starring Zelda Fitzgerald.

For which the first three chapters and a full synopsis are due on Nov. 1st.


*Photo courtesy of traeton at

New York in June

Every now and then the stars align, and I was the happy recipient of that alignment last week. I was in NY City for about 36 hours and was able to have four meetings, take some research photos for my new WIP, and see MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.

Here I am at the Penguin offices.

My agent, Kevan Lyon, is on the west coast while I’m on the east coast, so we had not yet had the opportunity to meet in person. Since Kevan was in NY for the Romance Writers of America Conference we planned a meeting with each other. My editor at NAL, Ellen Edwards, was also able to meet with us, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner and conversation. I was also so pleased to get to meet my publicist at Penguin. We all seem to share a vision for the book and I feel very fortunate to have such a fantastic team.

With Ellen Edwards of NAL/Penguin

It also happened that the Women’s Fiction writers of RWA (which includes many members of Writer Unboxed) had a speaker and cocktail reception that night. I was able to meet so many fantastic writers who I’ve “known” from Twitter and blogs for so long, and I can’t thank Therese Walsh enough for including me.

With Marilyn Brant, Therese Walsh, and Kristina McMorris

With Jael McHenry

The next morning I had some time so I went to Woody Allen’s new movie, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. Many friends have recommended this movie to me because of “cameos” by Ernest Hemingway and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and it did not disappoint. It was so charming, in fact, that I’m taking my husband to see it next week. After the movie, I took a picture of one of the fountains in which Zelda Fitzgerald took a dip, and the church where Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were married.

Plaza Hotel Fountain

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

I was able to have lunch with my friend, Lindsay Ribar, who just got a three book deal with Penguin for her young adult fantasy series about genies. (I know—doesn’t that sound awesome?) We share a love of writing and an obsession with the band Carbon Leaf, who originally brought us together.

Finally, the NAL/Berkley Cocktail Party at Sardi’s finished up my trip. I was able to meet my publisher and just about the entire NAL/Penguin team, in addition to scores of fantastic authors, agents, publicists, and reviewers. It was truly overwhelming in the best possible way.

I was deeply grateful for the opportunity I had to make the trip. To my family for holding down the fort, to my publishing friends for fitting me into their busy schedules, and to the weather for being very cooperative, I am grateful.

Hemingway’s Key West

Three years ago, I went on a tour of Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West, Florida. I’d always loved Hemingway’s work so I naturally had to tour his home. It was at some point between standing in the shadow of a chandelier in the master bedroom and staring at the typewriter on Hemingway’s work table in his writing cottage that I was overcome with inspiration. I knew that I would set my next book at the house in the thirties when Hemingway lived there.

Eager to put inspiration to application, I promptly began the Hemingway novel when I returned home. I had already started a sequel to my first novel, RECEIVE ME FALLING, and was jumping back and forth between the two manuscripts, unsure which deserved more of my time.

In the meantime, I had my third son. Writing went on hold for a few months, though my mind often wandered into the landscape of both of the books I’d started before the baby arrived.

It was during a late night feeding, in the haze of sleep deprived half-consciousness, that I had a dream. In it, I was sitting in Hemingway’s home in Key West in 1935. Hemingway, himself, walked into the room and sat with me on the couch. He said, “You have to write my book because I’ve become irrelevant.”

When I woke up I was certain which book I’d write.

Three years later, with my novel HEMINGWAY’S GIRL set for publication by NAL/Penguin, I returned to Key West to do a final research trip, make connections for the book launch, and spend time with my husband for our anniversary. It was very emotional for me to stand in the house that inspired this incredible journey I’ve been on and I could feel Hemingway wherever I went in town.

I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to occupy that space on several occasions, and I think the book is better for it. Below, I’ve posted some pictures from the trip. If you’d like to see the entire album, it’s on my Facebook Author Page: Erika Robuck, Author.

Thank you so much for sharing this journey with me. Enjoy!