Holiday Signings and News

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Seasons Greetings!

It’s hard to believe the holidays are nearly upon us. I have news, updates, and upcoming signing information to share. I hope to see you in the coming weeks, and wish all of you a healthy, peaceful holiday season.

  • If you need a hostess and/or holiday gift, I’ll be signing books at the following events:
    • Thursday, November 17th, 6-9 PM, Girls’ Night Out. Turn the Page Bookstore (Nora Roberts’ Shop), Boonsboro, MD. Free champagne. Do you need any other reason to attend?
    • Saturday, November 26th, 11 AM-1 PM, Small Business Saturday. Annapolis Bookstore, 53 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, MD. (*New store location.*)
  • If you are not local to Maryland, I’m happy to send signed bookplates. Email me at info [at] erikarobuck [dot] com with your mailing address and what you’d like inscribed. (US & Canada only, please.)
  • On November 1st, AUTHOR IN PROGRESS—an essay collection for writers to which I contributed—was published by Writer’s Digest Books. It debuted as a #1 new release in Fiction Writing Reference on Amazon! If you have a writer in your life who needs empowerment, encouragement, and practical advice, I highly recommend it.
  • Book Clubs: My kids’ busy schedules make participation in person difficult these days, but it’s always worth a try. At the very least, I might be able to FaceTime your book club. Email me at info [at] erikarobuck [dot] com if you’d like to schedule an in-person or virtual visit with your book club.
  • Finally, if you are so inclined, please consider leaving an online review of one or more of my books. And please feel free to share this post with the book lovers in your life.

Happy Holidays!

Erika

New Release for Writers: AUTHOR IN PROGRESS

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“Nourishment for the writer’s soul and motivation for the writer’s heart.” –James Scott Bell, best-selling author and writing instructor on AUTHOR IN PROGRESS

From the team at Writers Digest:

“AUTHOR IN PROGRESS, a book for novelists in progress at every level, releases today! Published by Writer’s Digest and written by the group at WRITER UNBOXED, it features brilliant, new essays on how not only to push through your current challenges but to thrive throughout the process of writing a book. Are you just starting your novel, struggling with how to begin or what to focus on? Are you struggling with how to finish your first book, or even your third? AUTHOR IN PROGRESS features essays at every level of story creation, and is broken into 7 sections to help you to:

1. PREPARE
2. WRITE
3. INVITE (critique)
4. IMPROVE
5. REWRITE
6. PERSEVERE
7. RELEASE

Over 50 writers contributed to AUTHOR IN PROGRESS, including bestselling authors and industry professionals:

Porter Anderson
Julianna Baggott
Brunonia Barry
James Scott Bell
Tom Bentley
Sharon Bially
Dan Blank
Anne Greenwood Brown
Kim Bullock
Sarah Callender
David Corbett
Kathryn Craft
Lisa Cron
Keith Cronin
Margaret Dilloway
Jo Eberhardt
Anna Elliott
Bill Ferris
Jane Friedman
Tracy Hahn-Burkett
Gwen Hernandez
Kristan Hoffman
Steven James
Dave King
Jeanne Kisacky
Robin LaFevers
Allie Larkin
Erika Liodice
Donald Maass
Sophie Masson
Greer Macallister
Juliet Marillier
Julia Munroe Martin
Sarah McCoy
Kathleen McCleary
Jael McHenry
Catherine McKenzie
Liz Michalski
Annie Neugebauer
Jan O’Hara
Barbara O’Neal
Ray Rhamey
Erika Robuck
M.J. Rose
Vaughn Roycroft
Lancelot Schaubert
Susan Spann
Victoria Strauss
John Vorhaus
Therese Walsh
Heather Webb
Cathy Yardley

“AUTHOR IN PROGRESS is going on my keeper shelf. Because no matter what question I’m struggling with today, I know I will find the answer in its pages.” – Alex Kourvo

“There are tons of awesome writing books out there about everything from creating suspenseful plots to using humor, but few of them cover every single part of your writing journey. And none of them do it quite like AUTHOR IN PROGRESS…Less than $20, unlimited answers.” – Emily Nielson”

Learn more about AUTHOR IN PROGRESS on Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Author-Progress-No…/…/ref=writunbo-20

Remember Why You Started

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Writers: Are you looking for inspiration?

I’m “live” at Writer Unboxed today in a humbling post.

Remember Why You Started

 

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: STILL WRITING

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“I prefer to think of [a writing routine] as rhythm rather than discipline. Discipline calls to mind a taskmaster, perhaps wielding a whip…Rhythm, however, is a gentle aligning, a comforting pattern in our day that we know sets us up ideally for our work.” Dani Shapiro, STILL WRITING

Publisher Synopsis:

From Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of Devotion and Slow Motion, comes a witty, heartfelt, and practical look at the exhilarating and challenging process of storytelling. At once a memoir, a meditation on the artistic process, and advice on craft, Still Writing is an intimate companion to living a creative life. Writers—and anyone with an artistic temperament—will find inspiration and comfort in these pages. Offering lessons learned over twenty years of teaching and writing, Shapiro shares her own revealing insights to weave an indispensable almanac for modern writers.

My Recommendation:

I have several nonfiction books and essay collections on the writing process I’ve been saving for the right mood (aka: when I need important reminders.) This is one of those times, and for me, STILL WRITING was the perfect balm for a profession that often leaves one hollow or raw at the completion of a work.

With her elegant phrasing and straightforward organization, Shapiro can be relied upon to not only give voice to the messy feelings one has throughout the writing process, but also offer solutions, comfort, and camaraderie across time and space. From the first whiff of premise through publication, Shapiro is unafraid (or rather, willing) to expose her insecurities and the challenges she faces each step of the way.

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “Writing…is an act of faith. We must believe without the slightest evidence that believing will get us anywhere.” (p. 23)
  • “You do not…need to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” (p. 118)
  • “When I consider endings, I think of music–in particular, the experience of sitting in a concert hall at the end of a performance…When those last notes have sounded, they linger. The music doesn’t screech to a halt. It can’t. We–the listener, the reader–have to lean into it. To meet it as it hangs in the air, as it fades away, until finally it is only memory.” (p. 194)

I recommend STILL WRITING to all writers at all stages of the process. Shapiro’s collection should be shelved alongside the greats, like BIRD BY BIRD and ON WRITING.

Writers: Have you read STILL WRITING? What are your favorite books on the craft of writing?

Book Recommendation: BIG MAGIC

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“I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” Elizabeth Gilbert, BIG MAGIC

Publisher Synopsis:

From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

My Recommendation: 

I have been a long-time fan of the writing of Elizabeth Gilbert, and only recently, have stumbled upon her joy-filled, wonder-full, awe-some Facebook and Instagram accounts. They are a well for anyone involved in creative pursuits; no, for all of us–for we are all creative and curious beings.

Gilbert’s joy is unabashed. She’s radical in her flagrant wielding of it. Her joy is the antidote to the abundance of trouble-making, politicizing, snarky, angry babel that infests social media. Gilbert addresses this joy in the opening pages of BIG MAGIC by quoting poet Jack Gilbert (no relation), so the reader knows what to expect from the onset:

“We must risk delight…We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”

Amen.

I’ve lately seen a sharp uptick in the amount of posts on Facebook and Twitter addressing divisive issues. I’ve been tempted to respond to these posts, retweet them, create my own, but often this leads me to a darkness that just doesn’t fit…me.

Does the need to share controversy arise from ego? (Do a certain amount of likes give me satisfaction?) Does it arise from a fear that I’m not doing my part? (We must not be silent.) Or is it more sinister? (Zuckerberg is playing with my emotions using data and share-metrics, and I am falling right into his trap.) I don’t know what it is, but increasingly, I find myself turning off social media (or retreating into the happy pictures of Instagram) in search of time off from Facebook and Twitter philosophers and politicians. More so, I find myself going OUTSIDE which has done wonders for my emotional and physical well-being, but more on that in another post.

All of this may seem like a digression from the purpose of this post; it is not. Read BIG MAGIC.

Liz Gilbert is a light-bearer. She brings energy and wonder and curiosity and gratitude back into fashion. She reminds the reader of simple things we know, or more complicated things we might not have understood, but all of it translates into a manifesto for embracing the joy of life, taking yourself and your endeavors lightly, and boldly going forth in the world bearing light.

Skeptics might grow uncomfortable with Gilbert’s talk of faith, of ideas as entities floating around looking for ways to be made manifest, and the divine cooperation the universe seeks with us, but read it anyway. Read it because it will not hurt you or make you angry. It will not make you lose sleep worrying over the state of the world, or whether you should share that political post, or if anything is worth fighting for any more.

Some things must be taken seriously. Some things must be shared and protested and addressed, but all of that seems to take care of itself, in excess. Give yourself the gift of BIG MAGIC to take care of the other part that needs tending: the glorious side of humanity when it engages fearlessly in the wonder of creation.

Book Recommendation: Brown Girl Dreaming

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“Maybe I should go there, too, my mother says.

Everyone else, she says,

has a new place to be now.

Everyone else

has gone away.

And now coming back home

isn’t really coming back home

at all.”

Jacqueline Woodson, BROWN GIRL DREAMING

Publisher Synopsis:

Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

My Recommendation:

I had the pleasure of seeing Jacqueline Woodson deliver the Keynote Address at last week’s Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City. Rarely does one come across a speech that inspires, humbles, makes one laugh and cry, and ends all too soon. Ms. Woodson’s talk did just that. She enchanted the room with her warmth, humor, and intelligence, and when she concluded, the crowd of hundreds gave her a standing ovation.

I read Woodson’s memoir BROWN GIRL DREAMING on the train home. I could hear her voice in my ear, telling me in verse who she was from the roots up, creating such vivid pictures with her words that I could have been watching a film. From Ohio in the sixties to the Jim Crow south, to New York in the seventies, each time and place are encapsulated vividly in the references to songs, shows, dress, and food, and provide the context for a girl learning who she is from the adults around her. The memoir has won the National Book Award, the Newbery Honor, and the Coretta Scott King Award, and all are well deserved.

In Ms. Woodson’s speech, she said, “Going deeply into the emotional truth of the work makes the specific universal.” Because BROWN GIRL DREAMING does just this, it is every child’s story, coming of age in complicated families and cities. It is the kind of book everyone in this country should read right now, because it makes us aware of our shared humanity, and our obligation to give our children a better world than the one in which we currently exist. I give BROWN GIRL DREAMING my highest recommendation.

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Eight Ways to Make Time for Writing

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My new novel FALLEN BEAUTY launched on Tuesday, and I have been overwhelmed with kind words and encouragement. It is a special thing to release a book, and I am blessed to have a network of family and friends who support me in my endeavors.

Inevitably, I get asked a question at launch time, at book clubs, on the sidelines of the hockey rink, and on social media: How Do You Do It All? Sometimes it is asked nicely, other times with suspicion, but it is always asked.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that question, and I want to qualify everything I’m about to say with the fact that I feel like I’m a mess–a Tazmanian-devil, swirling, hyper, scatterbrained mess. My house is often untidy. I’m forgetful. Sometimes I do things like throw my cell phone in the laundry basket to take downstairs, and instead of plugging it into the wall, I toss it in the washing machine and dryer with the clothes.

But that is not the answer people want to hear. They literally want to know how I balance writing and family life, with a husband and three children. As many of you know, there is no such thing as perfect balance. Sometimes I neglect my writing, other times, I neglect life. I try to alternate that time so that over time, something like balance is achieved. I also have learned how to save time, and my list below shows eight ways I save time and allot it for writing, so that I can stay on track with deadlines.

  • I don’t go to the gym. I have a 10 minute nightly routine I do before I go to bed.
  • I only watch TV I’ve DVRd while folding laundry. (Downton Abbey or Dancing with the Stars.)
  • I don’t take on classroom parent/PTA positions. (This is an area that I struggle with and feel judged about at times.)
  • I limit lunches out of the house.
  • I write 1000-2000 words a day. (Or revise 1000-2000 words a day.) If an average novel is around 90,000 words, you can see how a book can be written fairly quickly if there is enough discipline to write in 1000 word intervals.
  • I research the next book while writing the current.
  • I combine book tour travels with research trips.
  • I work at night. (Insomnia is a family curse. I have learned how to use it to my advantage.)

The bottom line is that this is a job. I happen to love my job, but it still requires discipline and a schedule. These tips might not be right for everyone, and I am certainly not saying they are how one should make time. Some of these sacrifices feel like sacrifices, but I have to make priorities that work for me.

Are any of these tips helpful to you? I would love to hear your suggestions for making time for writing.

**Photo Courtesy of BreakFreePhotography at DeviantArt.com