Robert Gregory Browne's Blog

October 19, 2013

I want to thank the Goodreads librarian who fixed the mess I made of my books when I tried to combine some editions.

You're the best.

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Published on October 19, 2013 15:10 • 50 views

June 3, 2012

I have to tell you that when ereaders first came on the scene, I was intrigued, slightly, from a technological point of view, but the few I had the chance to play with were underwhelming to me. The screens were bad, the formatting atrocious, and the page turns looked like something out of a low-budget sci-fi movie.

I, frankly, love physical books. I could give you the reasons, but you all know what they are, because most of you feel the same. I carried a paperback with me wherever I went, and if I had a few spare moments—a bus ride, standing in line, a lunch break—I'd spend that time with the paperback clutched in my hand. I'd even read a book when I went for a walk—which, believe me, is just asking for trouble.

When Amazon invented their version of the ereader, I greeted the news with a yawn. Been there, done that. But then something strange happened. Through a sheer stroke of luck, or pure marketing genius, the Kindle took off. We all witnessed it, and many of us turned up our noses at the thought that such a device could ever replace our beloved books.

Some still feel that way.

But I'm a professional writer. I make my living putting words on my computer screen. As such, I'm also a businessman and it was in that capacity that I decided to toss a hundred bucks or so toward Amazon just so I could have the so-called Kindle Experience.

I wasn't expecting much. Hell, I wasn't expecting anything. And believe me, I waited a LONG time before making that purchase. It wasn't until the Kindle 3 came along that I finally broke down and bought one.

(By the way, I've never really understood why it's called a Kindle. The word kindle means to arouse or inspire or give birth. So I suppose that has something to do with it, but I'm just guessing.)

While I wasn't expecting much from my new Kindle, what I DIDN'T really expect was to fall in love with it. The first time I fired up a book and looked down at the screen, I was surprised at how much it looked just like a paperback. This wasn't a computer screen I was staring at, it was merely a page full of words in a very pleasing format that looked as if it had been printed by a printing press.

The page turning feature was pretty flawless and as I read those words, I found myself forgetting that I was holding a device at all. I was, in fact, reading a book. A real book.

Because, after all, what is a book anyway? There was a time when I could have gone on and on about the smell of the paper, the beauty of the cover, the feel of the pages as I turned them—and I still have shelves full of hardbacks and paperbacks to prove my love for the format—but what I ultimately realized was that as long as the technology wasn't intrusive, the only thing that mattered was this:

The words.

Because that, in essence, is all a book is. The delivery of a writer's thoughts into the minds of his or her readers. How those words get there is, in all honesty, far less important than the words themselves. Even the most beautiful, perfectly bound book is completely worthless if the words on that page don't carry the reader away to another time and place.

So, here I am now, a man who was completely opposed to the idea of ereaders, suddenly finding that I PREFER to read books on my Kindle. So much so that I don't buy paper books at all anymore, unless they aren't available in ebook format.

I've even taken it a step farther as an author, by writing and publishing my first Digital Original, TRIAL JUNKIES, which is listed somewhere on this site.

And what I've discovered is that there are thousands—literally thousands—of others out there who feel the same way that I do. When I did a free promo of TRIAL JUNKIES, I gave away over 46,000 copies. And since that day, thousands more have bought the book, propelling it into the Top 100 and several bestseller lists, including the #1 Legal Thriller.

The Kindle and other ereaders (the Nook, Kobo, Sony) have made it possible for authors to reach their readers directly, and have given them the freedom to write what they want, when they want, without the interference of third parties.

So I have two reasons to be pro Kindle. As a reader AND as a writer.

Without the interference of those third parties, it comes down to just me and you.

And I love that.
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Published on June 03, 2012 08:43 • 231 views • Tags: amazon, kindle, mystery, suspense, thrillers, trial-junkies

April 4, 2012

I’m happy to say that The Paradise Prophecy is getting the best reader reviews of my career. Not all of them are raves, of course—no writer expects that—but a good many of them are and that makes me proud and happy. Why wouldn’t it? I worked my butt off on this book.

But sometimes we get negative reviews, and Paradise has had a few. One in particular says I’m pretty much the worst writer who ever put words to paper, and those are the kind of comments that tend to stick in a writer’s craw. Another calls the book a cheap thriller—which I, personally, don't think is a bad thing, since that's the type of book I happen to love.

But such reviews tend to poke at us. Why, we wonder, can’t the reviewers see how brilliant we are?

Okay, maybe not brilliant. But does the book really deserve such scorn? When we read reviews like these we tend to feel the sudden need to lash out at the reviewer. To defend ourselves or even write a nasty comment here on Goodreads or on their blog. Some authors have gone so far as to create false Internet identities and go on the attack, only to be discovered and publicly embarrassed by their behavior.


Maybe it’s because of my roots in Hollywood, but over the years I’ve developed a pretty thick skin. When you sit in a room with five people criticizing your screenplay with no regard for your feelings, you learn very quickly that it’s nothing personal. So when I read negative reviews of my books, I just remind myself that, as much as I’d like it to, what I write is not going to please everyone. And unless he or she has some sort of agenda against you—which is rare—the reviewer is simply offering an honest opinion.

And Lord knows I can be fairly critical myself.

So, here’s a piece of advice to all of the writers out there who are about to publish a book: when you get that inevitable bad review, mumble a few obscenities to yourself, quietly curse the reviewer, then forget about it. Don’t dwell. Just put it out of your mind.

And for godsakes, don’t respond. No matter how tempted you might be.

Stay classy, and sooner or later you’ll learn to simply laugh about it.

Really. I promise.
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Published on April 04, 2012 12:12 • 418 views • Tags: authors, mystery, paradise-prophecy, reviews, supernatural, suspense, thriller

July 17, 2011

Blatant self-promotion. Signings. Conferences. Panels. Blogs. Twitter. Facebook.

At heart I'm a simple guy and something of a loner who likes to spend time reading a book or watching a movie or, you know, actually writing the next entry in a rapidly growing library of work. I've always thought that the best advertising for your books is the work itself, so I do the promotion thing a bit reluctantly—and who knows, maybe that reluctance shows.

Anyone who has been keeping up knows that e-books are now the big thing. I have friends who are making a lot of money self-publishing on Kindle and Nook, and for those who already have a following, the ebook revolution could well give them a chance to make a living doing what they love.

Then there are guys like John Locke, who came out of nowhere and has become one of self-publishing's biggest hitters, and he tells us exactly how he did it in his recently published book on the subject, HOW I SOLD A MILLION EBOOKS or something along those lines.

When I saw the book on Kindle, I had to buy it. Anyone who has sold a million books of any kind tends to get my attention. I'm somewhat obsessed with James Patterson, whom a lot of writers disparage for his factory-like approach to producing novels. I, on the other hand, think he's a genius who has hit upon a formula that works for him. And I doubt he cares what those writers think as he sits back in his luxurious home and rakes in the cash.

So, I'm one to appreciate Locke's ability to sell books, no matter how he manages to do it. And, of course, I wanted to know how.

My problem, however, was that I got bored with his how-to book about halfway through. The first half seemed to be all tease (just hang on folks and I'll tell you how YOU, TOO can sell a million books. No, not now, just wait a little longer...), and by the time I got to the second half, it turned out to be the usual advice about—guess what?

Blogging. Twitter. Facebook.

As if every writer I've ever known hasn't done all this stuff already. I started a blog six or seven years ago when I was still trying to get a publishing deal, and I was on Murderati for years until I finally ran out of things to blog about.

Now, if you believe Locke, he's found a way to make social networking work for you, but I stopped reading and still don't know his magic formula. I should probably finish the book, because, who knows, maybe there's really something there I'll find useful. Maybe I'd be singing his praises. He was, after all, a millionaire before he even started writing books, so he must know something about something.

God knows I need help. According to the statistics, I've got a problem on my hands. My new book, THE PARADISE PROPHECY, comes out in just a few days and despite a lot of great reviews and the fact that many people have told me, unsolicited, that they couldn't put the book down, I know I have an uphill climb.

Because the book is being released in hardback. Remember those? It has a beautiful cover and a bit a heft to it and inside are some wonderful Gustave Dore illustrations and it's just one of those books you have to buy on paper because it's so gorgeous to look at. The kind of book that looks great on a shelf.

But hardbacks don't sell anymore. Only low-priced e-books do. That's the conventional wisdom. And while the book is available via e-book, of course, there's a part of me that hopes people will go for the hardback this time. If I could personally sign each and every one of them, I would.

I've never been one, however, to care much about conventional wisdom. I think all the social networking in the world will not help you if the book you write is no good.

And while I'm biased, I think THE PARADISE PROPHECY is the best book I've ever written. It's big and bold and both epic and intimate at the same time. It's fantasy and thriller and mystery and suspense all wrapped into one and I think most who read it will come away feeling satisfied.

At least I hope they will.

The trick, of course, is getting people to pick it up and read it. Mr. Locke seems to know that trick, and I should probably be listening to him.

Or maybe I should just stick to writing. It's what I do best.
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Published on July 17, 2011 22:13 • 140 views

June 22, 2011

My publisher, Dutton, sent me a copy of the final hardcover version of The Paradise Prophecy today. The one you'll see in stores.

There's nothing like that anticipation you feel when you're tearing the envelope open, wondering if you'll be happy with what you see. It doesn't matter if you've seen it as a digital file. Or an ARC. As beautiful as you my think the typesetting looks on a computer screen, or on the slick pages of that ARC, you can't really know what the real thing will look and feel and smell like until you have it in your hands.

I'm happy to tell you that The Paradise Prophecy looks and feels and smells wonderful. The book's design is truly a work of art. But it isn't just the cover that wows me (created by Richard Hasselberger). The interior design is beautifully rendered, utilizing the striking and evocative Paradise Lost illustrations of Gustave Dore.

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In portraying his subjects—such as Satin falling to earth after being cast out of Heaven—Dore gave us works of art that managed to be both dramatic and eerily transcendent. We're looking at the otherworld in motion, populated by creatures that seem both human and alien. Angels who have warred against their god and lost.

These are not the evil creatures that we think of as demons. That's something we can assume comes later in their history. Instead, what Dore shows us—just as Milton did—are misunderstood rebels who feel betrayed. Who would rather build their own kingdom in Hell than be subservient to anyone.

Dore's etchings so perfectly match Milton's masterpiece that you think the two men must have been in psychic communication.

So, obviously, I'm thrilled to see some of these illustrations as part of The Paradise Prophecy's design. While they don't comment directly on the story itself (the book's setting is predominately modern—pretty much a balls-out international thriller), they do allow the reader a glimpse into another world and help convey the story's historical and mythical underpinnings.

Thank you, Dutton, for an amazing job.
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Published on June 22, 2011 20:31 • 140 views

June 17, 2011

As I began to build the mystery underlying The Paradise Prophecy, I started looking for ancient texts that I hoped would add depth and detail to the story.

My editor, Ben Sevier, who knew what I was looking for, sent me an email with a link to Steganographia, a work that was so controversial in its day that the author, Johannes Trithemius, pulled it from publication.

Trithemius, a sixteenth century Benedictine abbot, who was an expert in cryptography, got into some hot water after he completed the three volumes of the work, because the friends who read it thought he had fallen prey to the dark arts.

While Steganographia seemed, on the surface, to be about magic and communicating via angels, it was really an exercise in hidden text that created quite a stir when it was privately circulated, despite Trithemius's ban on its publication.

The volumes weren't published officially until after his death—much to the chagrin of the Catholic church—and once the code for the first two volumes was cracked, experts found that Trithemius had been telling the truth about its contents. That the text was nothing more than a clever exercise in cryptography.

Or was it?

The code for the third volume wasn't cracked until 1998, and many people believed it to be a treatise on summoning up dark spirits. And Trithemius has long been revered as an occult hero.

When I read all of this, I knew I had something special here, as if it were tailor made for The Paradise Prophecy. And I knew my two modern-day heroes—Bernadette Callahan and Sebastian LaLaurie—would find the work very useful in their quest to solve the Prophecy mystery.

I think they got a lot more than they bargained for.
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Published on June 17, 2011 08:03 • 155 views • Tags: angels, demons, mystery, paradise, prophecy, supernatural, suspense, thriller

June 8, 2011

Before they met, he knew nothing of the book, or the story surrounding it.

He hadn’t known about its size or the scope of its contents or the blackening skin of its pages or the ornate, nearly perfect penmanship that adorned them. He hadn’t known that it was housed in Prague, in one of the collections of a Holy Roman Emperor, patron of the arts and practicing alchemist. He hadn’t known that a hundred and sixty donkeys had been slaughtered to further its creation.

And he was completely unaware of the seven missing pages.

The pages that would lead to his undoing.

These are the opening lines of The Paradise Prophecy, which refer to a book that's very much real—but that few people know about.

That book is the Codex Gigas. Or, as it's more commonly known, The Devil's Bible, which legend tells us was created by a Benedictine monk in order to keep his brethren from walling him up alive, after he'd sinned against the church.

It's said that the monk took just a single night to complete the tome—a book containing hundreds of handwritten pages and illustrations—and he was only able to do this after he appealed to Satan himself for help.

This book, which is the size of a small packing trunk (hence the name Codex Gigas or Big Book), still exists today, and is on display at the National Library in Stockholm. You can learn more about it here.

But what I, as a writer, find intriguing about the book, are its seven missing pages, and the simple fact that nobody seems to know where these pages went or what they might contain.

This is what sparked, in my mind, the central mystery behind The Paradise Prophecy. A mystery linked to ancient rituals and religious doctrine and coded messages and dark angels who walk the earth, threatening us at every turn.

My two heroes, Sebastian LaLaurie and Bernadette Callahan, spend a considerable amount of a time and energy to uncover this mystery, and I have to say I had a blast making it as difficult as possible for them.

I hope you'll have just as much fun taking the ride with them.
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Published on June 08, 2011 12:03 • 295 views • Tags: angels, demons, mystery, paradise, prophecy, supernatural, suspense, thriller