Five Reasons to Take an Online Writing Class in 2015 by Sharon Oard Warner

Posted by January 21st, 2015

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”                          – Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki

First Ranamin adOL.inddMost beginning writers are anxious to shrug off the adjective, which they perceive as a pejorative. When I was beginning to write, I wanted nothing more than to be taken seriously. Now, I can pass as an expert fiction writer and my employer prefers that I do so. I am a professor in English Department at the University of New Mexico where I teach creative writing to undergraduates and graduate students. I also serve as the founding director of the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference, an annual week-long event that is currently in its seventeenth year.

Why, then, have I decided to shrug off the expert mantle and assume the role of beginner again. Why am I taking a writing class online? Here’s why:

In October of 2014, I finally published my fourth book—and second novel—a family story set in New Mexico called SOPHIE’S HOUSE OF CARDS. It’s a good novel. I’m proud of it, but the sad truth is that I spent the last thirteen years of my life completing it.  At that rate, I will complete only one or two more novels in my lifetime, and I won’t have much fun in the process.

My reasons for enrolling in “Write Where You Are: a Mindful Approach” might be different than yours.  But if you are wishing and hoping to write more in 2015 (more, say, than you wrote in 2014), if you’re striving to compose better, fresher prose, consider the following: Continue reading

Share Button

Top Rated Books on Book Country

Posted by January 20th, 2015

Top Rated Books on Book Country

Top Rated Books on Book Country

A new set of Top Rated books is featured on the Read and Review page. We are excited to share with you the books that garnered great positive feedback! Continue reading

Share Button

Apply to the 2015 NYC Emerging Writers Fellowship Program!

Posted by January 14th, 2015

NYC Emerging Writers Fellowship

Center for Fiction

Attention NYC writers! The Center for Fiction is hosting the 2015 NYC Emerging Writers Fellowship Program. Nine fellows will each receive a $4,000 grant, the opportunity to meet with agents, free admission to all Center for Fiction events for one year among other great benefits. Sara Batkie, Awards and Programs Manager for the Center, shares how the fellowship program helps writers and the success past fellows have achieved. The deadline to apply to the 2015 NYC Emerging Writers Fellowship Program is January 31, 2015.

***

Janet Umenta: For a writer, what are the advantages of living in NYC?

Sara Batkie: I’d say that the biggest advantage by far for writers in NYC is the literary community here. It’s not just that many great writers make their home in the city or that so many MFA programs are here; it’s that there’s always something literary going on. Almost any night of the week you can go out and find great readings at bookstores and event spaces like The Center, where you can hear from and meet your favorite authors or discover a new, exciting voice. While a large part of being a writer is sitting in a room and getting the work done, equally important I think is going out into the wider world and meeting the other people who are doing the same work you are, getting to know them and what they’re writing too. Often a writer will find his or her first great supporters, and eventually lifelong friends, this way. There are other great cities where this happens obviously, but New York has sheer volume on its side.

Continue reading

Share Button

Book Country Member D.J. Pizzarello on Publishing COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others

Posted by January 13th, 2015

Book Country Member D.J. Pizzarello on Publishing COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others

Congratulations to Book Country member D.J. Pizzarello on publishing COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others! D.J. workshopped several short stories on Book Country and received outstanding feedback. We recently featured D.J. on the Member Spotlight. In this Q&A, D.J. shares what surprised him most about the publishing process and advice he would give to other writers considering the self-publishing route. You can purchase COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others on Book CountryAmazon, and other major online book retailers. 

***

Janet Umenta: After years of writing, what was the moment like when you decided you were ready to publish?

D.J. Pizzarello: I’d actually decided to publish some years before I finally took the plunge. I felt strongly that my stories should be told, that I had something to say others might find interesting, perhaps even thought-provoking. I’ve always loved language, loved trying to express myself in inventive ways. So I spent some years working on stories I’d already written, revising, and revising, and revising—and at times, creating new ones. At a point, fairly recently, I decided that my work was ready to be published. How did I feel at that point? Ready, eager, energized. Raring to go. Continue reading

Share Button

Waiting to be Discovered Books on Book Country

Posted by January 12th, 2015

Book Country Waiting to be Disocvered January 2015

Ten new books are featured in the Waiting to be Discovered section on the Read and Review page. This is a great opportunity to help a writer start the new year right! Read our guide on reviewing books on Book Country.

Continue reading

Share Button

Book Country Editor’s Picks for January 2015

Posted by January 7th, 2015

January Editor's Picks on Book CountryWe’re excited to share with you the ten titles featured in the Editor’s Picks section. Check them out and leave a review!

Continue reading

Share Button

Write Start Author Series & Contest from Biographile and Paste Magazine

Posted by January 6th, 2015

Calling all Book Country writers! Are you ready to start a great story this year?

Biographile, a Penguin Random House blog dedicated to biography and memoir, is going to be a wealth of inspiration and advice for aspiring writers all through the month of January. Already an excellent place to brush up on the craft of writing (check out our post from last month with Biographile’s Joe Muscolino), they’re amping it up with the Write Start Author Series. More than forty published authors are going to share tips for getting started on a new project . . . just in time for a new year in your writing life.

BC_Write-Start-Contest_600x400px

From Biographile:

At some point most writers will face this struggle, the furious and paralyzing reality of squeezing perfect ideas into imperfect words.

We at Biographile feel your pain, so we’ve spent the past few months asking forty-plus authors to share their hard-earned writing advice to remind you you’re not alone. For the month of January, in the spirit of new beginnings, Biographile will be spending each day celebrating the craft of writing by giving you all the basics to get started.

Additionally, the awesome folks at Paste Magazine are hosting the Write Start Contest, perfect for Book Country writers! Continue reading

Share Button

New Top Rated Books on Book Country

Posted by December 18th, 2014

Top Rated on Book Country

We’ve added new Top Rated books on Book Country’s Read and Review page. Check them out and add them to your list for the Give the Gift of Writing Feedback Review Challenge! Continue reading

Share Button

SPARK by Book Country Member Atthys Gage: On Sale Today!

Posted by December 17th, 2014

SPARK by Atthys GageCongratulations to longtime Book Country member Atthys Gage! His debut YA novel, SPARK, was originally workshopped on Book Country, and came out today from Lycaon Press.

Lucy Silag: Tell us about your first “spark” of the idea for SPARK. How did that idea grow and change over time and drafts?

Atthys Gage: It’s hard for me to pinpoint, but there is a persistent image that I associate with SPARK: someone is walking past a vacant lot; there are a couple of homeless types standing around a big metal drum, warming themselves on the scrap-wood fire lit within; sparks fly upward. The only thing is, that scene doesn’t appear in the book and never did in any version. It is, apparently, a sort of catalyst scene. Like an enzyme, it allowed the process of writing the book to take place but wasn’t consumed in the process.

LS: What has surprised you most about the experience of taking your book from an idea to a finished product?

AG: I was struck by how my own feelings changed as we neared the end. At first I was willing to fight for every little thing. Or, if not fight, then endlessly agonize over how to fix something that wasn’t quite right. By the end, I was more likely to just eliminate the problematic passage with a sweep of the blue pencil. It’s almost as though the book itself was so ready to be done and out in the world that it began resisting my efforts to fix it anymore. I’d reach out to straighten a clause or rub out a questionable comma, and it would slap my hand away like a moody teenager. Just leave it alone! Go away! I honestly think the poor thing was tired of all the attention. Continue reading

Share Button

Apply to the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices

Posted by December 16th, 2014

Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT VoicesThe Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices is a one-week intensive workshop in fiction, genre fiction, nonfiction, playwriting or poetry for LGBTQ writers. Hosted by the Lambda Literary Foundation, it is an amazing chance to learn from the LGBTQ writing community. Tony Valenzuela, Executive Director of Lambda Literary, shares what to expect in the Retreat and how you can apply. The application deadline is January 5, 2015!

***

Lucy Silag: Tell us about Lambda Literary as a whole–what are some of the main goals of the organization, and what’s your role within it?

Tony Valenzuela: I’m the Executive Director of Lambda Literary.

I’ll start by telling you our mission: “Lambda Literary believes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer literature is fundamental to the preservation of our culture, and that LGBTQ lives are affirmed when our stories are written, published and read.”  Our programs – the Lambda Literary Awards, the Lambda Literary Review, LGBTQ Writers in Schools, and the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices – serve emerging and established writers, readers of all stripes looking for the next great book to pick up, librarians and booksellers interested in stocking their shelves with the best contemporary queer literature, publishers who want their titles reviewed and to win awards, and students who want to discuss queer literature in their classrooms.  No other nonprofit organization in the world does as much to advance LGBTQ literature. Continue reading

Share Button