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Guest post and giveaway of Beach Plum Island, a new novel by Holly Robinson

Published: April 9, 2014 | Last Updated: May 2, 2014 By | 14 Replies Continue Reading
Beach Plum Island by Holly Robinson

Beach Plum Island by Holly Robinson

Congratulations Tiani! You are the winner of the Beach Plum Island book giveaway!

My friend and colleague Holly Robinson, author of Beach Plum Island, writes about how her friendships keep her writing. Win a free copy of her new book by leaving a comment below. (One randomly chosen reader will win the book. Entries limited to U.S. mailing addresses only. Contest ends 4/30/14).

What Keeps a Woman Writing?  Other Friends Who Write 
By Holly Robinson

Any woman who works knows there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.  Even before we start our paid jobs, we’ve put in hours of labor:  tossing in a load of laundry, going online to pay the mortgage, making breakfasts and lunches, cleaning the kitchen, pulling chicken (again) out of the freezer for dinner. At night it’s the same damn hamster wheel.

For women artists, there’s the added challenge of finding the time—and energy—to pursue creative work. If we’re lucky, we make a little money from the passions we pursue, but most of us are forced by finances to tuck creativity in around the edges of paid work and household responsibilities.

As a novelist with a day job, I have become an expert at shoehorning my passion for telling stories into a finite number of minutes each day.  This means writing in the car while I wait for a kid to emerge from school and carrying cups of peppermint tea to my desk when I’ve finished the daily chores.  I also sneak off to libraries and cafes on weekends for my fiction fix.  Otherwise, it’s too difficult to ignore the fact that everybody seems to need me at once.

The media portrays female artists as cat fighting and competitive. We all saw the movie Black Swan, right? We also expect artists to be unstable:  Sylvia Plath gassed herself, for instance, and Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with stones and stumbled into a river to drown.

I have never thought of turning on the oven or drowning myself. But I have been sad enough about rejections to lie on a couch with Grand Marnier in one hand and a chocolate truffle in the other. I have also had enough crises in confidence to nearly swear off writing fiction altogether. What keeps me in the game are my writer friends—especially those who are also balancing motherhood and paid work as they ponder plots, create believable characters, and wrestle with back story and imagery.

Some of these writers have been my friends from the very start, like Susan Straight, who I met in graduate school and liked immediately, despite the fact that she’s younger, thinner, blonder, and—not least of all—wins way more literary awards than I do. Novelist Elisabeth Elo and I were in workshops together for years and now meet for monthly dinners to talk shop. Others are new writer friends, like mystery novelist Toby Neal in Hawaii and Amy Sue Nathan from the Chicago area.  I met both of them through social media; our correspondence led to us to form friendships that have enriched our work as well as our ability to survive the vagaries of the publishing industry.

Then there is my friendship with Maddie Dawson, who I met because she was good enough to blurb my first book. Ironically, Maddie and I had actually been appearing together in print for years, sharing a humor column in a national magazine. This month, Maddie is celebrating the launch of her wonderful new novel, The Opposite of Maybe, at the same time that I’m launching my new book, Beach Plum Island. We’ve decided our main characters should be friends, too, because they look like sisters on the covers of our books.

Writing fiction–or making any sort of public art, I imagine—is so personal that it renders you vulnerable, as if you’re parading around the public square in your bathing suit in the dead of winter, before you’ve done that intensive month of Pilates and gotten a tan in your back yard.  You are wobbly and white, fleshy and uncomfortable, dying to cover yourself.

Luckily, you have your friends in their bathing suits walking beside you, saying, “You’re beautiful from the inside out, and very brave. Come on. You can do it.  Just put one foot in front of the other.  I’ll be with you all the way.”


Plum Beach Island by Holly Robinson is also available on Amazon, in hardcover and Kindle editions. The author is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, Huffington Post, Ladies’ Home Journal, More, Open Salon, and Parents. She is the author of one previous novel, The Wishing Hill and a memoir, The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter. Robinson holds a B.A. in biology from Clark University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She and her husband have five children, two cats, a grumpy hamster, and two very stubborn small dogs.  

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Comments (14)

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  1. Dunn says:

    I would like to read your book. The title caught my eye with me being a New Englander and all.

  2. Delia says:

    Someone that I care about so much went to work to another country,I truly miss her so much 🙁
    But I thank God for the new technology (Facebook) 🙂 I’ve been able to communicate with her,and ever since I’ve been emailing her, I’m probably driving her crazy (sorry) haha but that’s to show her how much I care for her and wish her well….
    Love & Friendship
    Dee<3

  3. Wendy says:

    Your book sounds interesting!

  4. Jessica M says:

    Sounds like a great book!

  5. anne says:

    I enjoy visiting this informative and wonderful site which gives me insight into individuals and their lives and trials and tribulations. Your post today was so true since writers have other lives but are devoted to their writing which gives so many enjoyment and pleasure. I read to escape and it is my sole form of entertainment. Best wishes and much happiness, enjoyment and success. Beach Plum Island would be a book which I would treasure greatly.

  6. Tiani says:

    I would LOVE to win a copy of this novel. I am an avid reader and have heard many great things about Hollys writing style and I can’t wait to dive into another story and find out for myself!

  7. Alyssa says:

    This book sounds interesting. This is definitely a must read for the summer while sitting on a swing or laying in the sand. I would like to read about the comparisons of those friendships in the book compared to mine.

  8. Suzie says:

    I hope my comment doesn’t pale in comparison to the others’ written here. Just want to say I loved reading this article, and congratulations on your new novel. You sound like a very accomplished person! 🙂

  9. I’m so glad to see you all here–and don’t worry, if I win the book, I’ll send it to one of you! 🙂

  10. Shirley MacQuarrie says:

    Hi
    I know Holly because they owned the cottage beside our house for a few years! Over the years we have become good friends and I’m so proud of her!
    Love
    Shirley

  11. All so very true, Holly. I have writer friends everywhere, mostly women. Some I have met after we met online, some I haven’t but that doesn’t stop us from having meaningful discussions and supporting each other. I’ve been blessed by a joining forces with a group of five other female New England cozy mystery writers, with whom I share an agent, accountability goals, sorrows, and joys. It’s made all the difference to all of our recent publishing successes and our lives. (In face, we’re all meeting in Old Orchard Beach this weekend for a retreat. Expect quite a few empty wine bottles in the recycling bin on Sunday…) Can’t wait to read your book!

  12. Sue Garber says:

    I love this site and I love to read good books. I recently joined a great book group on Facebook where I have recently made some wonderful new friends. The administrator of the group and I have discovered we have a lot in common as in 4 degrees of separation. There are great books posted there with wonderful intros and reviews and photos and it has given me such insight into authors and characters that I never knew before. I am familiar with Plum Island and so your book sounds so interesting. I would love to win a free copy as I am currently indigent, waiting to get my SS benefits in 3 months and I LOVE READING GOOD BOOKS. Thank you for your consideration.

  13. Amy F says:

    I added the book to my (110 book, lengthy) Amazon Wish list. I’d love to win a free copy and get that wish list down to 109 :).

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