iOS app Android app

Holly Robinson
Holly Robinson writes about pop culture, parenting, health, science and psychology for national magazines. She is the author of the novels Sleeping Tigers and The Wishing Hill, as well as The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter: A Memoir. Read excerpts of her books as well as some of her recent articles and essays at

Entries by Holly Robinson

How to Write a Synopsis? Pretend You're Carving Soap

(2) Comments | Posted July 25, 2014 | 12:42 PM

I recently finished the synopsis for my new novel, and truthfully? By the end I felt like I did at Girl Scout camp, when they used to have us carve flowers and animals out of bars of soap....

Read Post

Summer Reads: The Good, the Bad, and the Just So-So

(0) Comments | Posted July 9, 2014 | 12:25 PM

How far are you into your summer reading? After a month, I've plowed through a few books on my nightstand (as well as under it). To qualify as a "great summer read," I want a book that offers sympathetic characters, depth of emotion, and a forward narrative momentum that keeps...

Read Post

Every Woman's Nightmare: The Photo Shoot

(0) Comments | Posted July 2, 2014 | 11:15 AM

The singer Lorde recently made headlines for posting "actual" pictures of herself, acne scars and all, after the media ran digitally-altered pictures showing her with a perfect creamy perfection. Her photos were accompanied by this refreshing message: "Remember, flaws are OK."

I kept repeating that mantra as I...

Read Post

How Do You Write a Novel? By Listening

(0) Comments | Posted June 25, 2014 | 11:22 AM

How do novelists get their ideas? Often from listening to other people's stories: in the car, around the dinner table, or even in a crowded grocery store. We're always plucking ideas from the air.

My mother tells better stories than anyone. As a child, my favorite was about the time...

Read Post

Is a Book Publicist Worth the Money?

(6) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 4:03 PM

"So, what will your publisher do to promote your book?" a friend asked when I sold my second novel.

Truthfully, I had no idea what the plan was. Something, I hoped. It has taken me two...

Read Post

How Do You Choose a Book Cover That Tells Your Story?

(1) Comments | Posted June 4, 2014 | 8:20 AM

Haven Lake_FC

How are book covers made? How do art departments capture an entire story in a single image? It can't be easy. Book cover designers -- especially at big publishing houses -- get descriptions of books by the dozen and...

Read Post

How Long Does a Novel Take to Write?

(2) Comments | Posted May 20, 2014 | 3:34 PM

I binged this past weekend. Not on reality TV or chocolate or martinis, but on writing. I booked a cheap off-season condo in Maine and wrote 17,822 words.

Were all of those good words? Not necessarily....

Read Post

8 Tips for a DIY Book Tour

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2014 | 8:21 PM

Every writer hates the idea of being a carnival barker. Nobody goes out anymore, you tell yourself. Who wants to give a reading where the only people in the audience are your mom and that drunk guy?

However, writers who don't meet readers in person are missing out, not...

Read Post

Whether You're Building a Robot or a Book, Science + Creativity = Magic

(1) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 7:59 PM

No question about it. My husband and I are opposites. He's a software engineer and I'm a writer. When people glance at my computer screen, they're confronted by a maze of thorny paragraphs, while his is a jungle of coded symbols.

Then there's the grand divide in...

Read Post

Lessons From Ladies' Home Journal

(0) Comments | Posted April 25, 2014 | 2:36 PM

When I heard that Ladies' Home Journal magazine was biting the dust after 131 years, I cried. Not just for the editors, who were booted unceremoniously to the curb, but because Ladies' Home Journal was the first national magazine to give my writing a home.

I never,...

Read Post

Eight Dog Tricks I Value Most

(0) Comments | Posted April 22, 2014 | 2:08 PM


I haven't managed to teach my dog many tricks, other than to twirl on his hind legs whenever he thinks I might reward him with a slice of banana. (And that one he pretty much learned on his own.) But...

Read Post

What Kind of Fiction Do You Love to Read or Write? Maybe It's Time to Push the Genre Envelope

(3) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 8:19 PM

Whether you're writing a mystery series or fantasy, so-called "literary fiction" or romances, the common view is that writers must brand themselves as one thing or another to market their books. While there's a certain amount of truth to...

Read Post

What Keeps a Woman Writing? Other Women Who Write.

(0) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 10:28 AM

Maddie Dawson & I want our characters to be friends, too!
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:...
Read Post

The 10 Worst Things You Can Say to a Writer During a Book Launch

(6) Comments | Posted April 1, 2014 | 11:04 AM


Remember Romper Room, that classic children's TV show? There was this giant bee that would come on, cautioning kids to mind their manners and be a "Good Do Bee."

This week I feel like that giant...

Read Post

How Do You Write a Novel? Six Things That Stay the Same Every Time

(2) Comments | Posted March 25, 2014 | 2:19 PM

My friend Susan Straight and I have been swapping manuscripts-in-progress since graduating from the MFA program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst over two decades ago. Since then, she has published nine books and earned buckets of prestigious literary awards. I've been dogging her since grad school and...

Read Post

Should You Send Your Child to a Prep School?

(2) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 10:41 AM

Right about now, parents across the country are agonizing over whether or not to send their child to a private high school as spring admissions letters roll in. Even if the child is admitted, they're agonizing: private school tuition costs are a hefty burden, and if you spend your education...

Read Post

How Launching a Book Is Like Sending Your Kid to College

(1) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 8:47 AM

This month, as I gear up to launch my new novel, BEACH PLUM ISLAND, on April 1, it occurs to me that there are lots of similarities between sending your kid out into the world and offering your book to readers.

The Month Before the Launch Is Exhausting....

Read Post

How to Keep Your Writing Warm When You Can't Write

(7) Comments | Posted February 27, 2014 | 11:35 AM

It's a blessing to take a writer's retreat, whether you do it officially at a place like Yaddo or the MacDowell Colony, or whether you arrange your own intensive quickie retreat like I did recently, thanks to my friend Melanie loaning me her cottage in Maine. For working moms like...

Read Post

Sexless but Equal: How I Conquered Valentine's Day and the NYT

(0) Comments | Posted February 15, 2014 | 12:41 PM

Last Sunday, the lead article on the hot pink cover of the The New York Times magazine was "Sexless but Equal." It was well-timed for Valentine's Day, and guaranteed to cause all of us who aren't already feeling adequate to feel even more so.

The gist of the...

Read Post

Should You Write a Memoir or a Novel? 4 Key Questions

(1) Comments | Posted February 1, 2014 | 6:28 PM

You have a great story to tell about something that happened to you. But should it be fiction or a memoir?

The answer to that question is less straightforward than it seems. Let's say you've always wanted to write about your mom being a witch with her own coven, or...

Read Post